mid-14c., "territory subject to an emperor's rule;" in general "realm, dominion;" late 14c. as "authority of an emperor, supreme power in governing; imperial power," in Middle English generally of the Roman Empire.
From Old French empire "rule, authority, kingdom, imperial rule" (11c.), from Latin imperium "a rule, a command; authority, control, power; supreme power, sole dominion; military authority; a dominion, realm," from imperare "to command," from assimilated form of in- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + parare "to order, prepare" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure").
Not etymologically restricted to "territory ruled by an emperor," but used that way. The Empire, meaning "the British Empire," first recorded 1772 (it officially devolved into "The Commonwealth" in 1931); before that it meant the Holy Roman Empire (1670s).
[P]roperly an empire is an aggregate of conquered, colonized, or confederated states, each with its own government subordinate or tributary to that of the empire as a whole. [Century Dictionary]
Empire as the name of a style (especially in reference to a style of dresses with high waistlines) is by 1860, in reference to the affected classicism prevailing in France during the reign of Napoleon I (1804-15). Second Empire is in reference to the rule of Napoleon III of France (1852-70). New York has been called the Empire State since 1834.
late 15c., "to use to one's profit, to increase (income)," from Anglo-French emprouwer "to turn to profit" (late 13c.), from Old French en-, a causative prefix or from em-, + prou "profit," from Latin prode "advantageous" (see proud (adj.)).
Spelling with -v- was rare before 17c.; it apparently arose from confusion of -v- and -u-. Spelling otherwise deformed by influence of words in -prove. Meaning "make better, raise to a better quality or condition" first recorded 1610s. Intransitive sense "get better" is from 1727. Phrase improve the occasion retains the etymological sense. Meaning "to turn land to profit" (by clearing it, erecting buildings, etc.) was in Anglo-French (13c.) and survived or was revived in the American colonies and Australia. Hence, "make good use of, occupy (a place) and convert to some purpose."
1550s, originally an ecclesiastical word meaning "bishop" or "minister who supervises churches within a district" (ultimately a loan-translation of Greek episkopos "overseer"), from Medieval Latin superintendentem (nominative superintendens), present participle of Late Latin superintendere "oversee," from Latin super "above" (see super-) + intendere "turn one's attention to, direct" (see intend). Famously used by 16c. radical Protestants in place of bishop, which to them was tainted by Papacy.
[Martinists] studie to pull downe Bishopps, and set vp Superintendents, which is nothing else, but to raze out good Greeke, & enterline bad Latine. [Lyly, "Pappe with an Hatchet," 1589]
The general sense of "a person who has charge of some business" is first recorded 1580s. Meaning "janitor, custodian" is from c. 1935. Shortened form super first attested 1857, especially at first of overseers of sheep ranches in Australia. As an adjective meaning "superintending," from 1590s.
proverbial for "something extremely rare or non-existent," late 14c., from Juvenal ["Sat." vi. 164], but the real thing turned up later in Australia (Chenopsis atratus).
"Do you say no worthy wife is to be found among all these crowds?" Well, let her be handsome, charming, rich and fertile; let her have ancient ancestors ranged about her halls; let her be more chaste than all the dishevelled Sabine maidens who stopped the war—a prodigy as rare upon the earth as a black swan! yet who could endure a wife that possessed all perfections? I would rather have a Venusian wench for my wife than you, O Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, if, with all your virtues, you bring me a haughty brow, and reckon up Triumphs as part of your marriage portion. [Juvenal]
Blue dahlia also was used 19c. for "something rare and unheard of."
"in a descending direction, from a higher to a lower place, degree, or condition," late Old English shortened form of Old English ofdune "downwards," originally of dune "off from (the) hill," from dune "from the hill," dative of dun "hill" (see down (n.2)). The "hill" word is general in Germanic, but this sense development is peculiar to English. As a preposition, "in a descending direction upon or along," from late 14c.
To be down on "express disapproval of" is by 1851. Down home is from 1828 as "in one's home region," as an adjective phrase meaning "unpretentious" by 1931, American English. Down the hatch as a toast is from 1931. Down to the wire is 1901, from horse-racing.
Down Under "Australia and New Zealand" attested from 1886; Down East "Maine" is from 1825; Down South "in the Southern states of the U.S." is attested by 1834. Down the road "in the future" is by 1964, U.S. colloquial. Down-to-earth "everyday, ordinary, realistic" is by 1932.
"right of each citizen to liberty, equality, etc.," 1721, American English, from civil in the sense "pertaining to the citizen in his relations to the organized commonwealth or to his fellow citizens." Specifically of black U.S. citizens from 1866, in reference to the Civil Rights Bill, an act of Congress which conferred citizenship upon all persons born in the United States, not subjects of other powers, "of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery." Civil Rights Movement in reference to the drive for racial equality that began in U.S. in mid-1950s is attested by 1963.
Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. [Lyndon Johnson, speech introducing Voting Rights Act, March 15, 1965]
mid-15c., creke "narrow inlet in a coastline," altered from kryk (early 13c.; in place names from 12c.), probably from Old Norse kriki "corner, nook," perhaps influenced by Anglo-French crique, itself from a Scandinavian source via Norman. Perhaps ultimately related to crook and with an original notion of "full of bends and turns" (compare dialectal Swedish krik "corner, bend; creek, cove").
Extended to "inlet or short arm of a river" by 1570s, which probably led to use for "small stream, brook" in American English (1620s). In U.S. commonly pronounced and formerly sometimes spelled crick. Also used there and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand for "branch of a main river," possibly from explorers moving up main rivers and seeing and noting mouths of tributaries without knowing they often were extensive rivers of their own.
Slang phrase up the creek "in trouble" (often especially "pregnant") is attested by 1941, perhaps originally armed forces slang for "lost while on patrol," or perhaps a cleaned-up version of the older up shit creek in the same sense.
late 14c., publike, "open to general observation," from Old French public (c. 1300) and directly from Latin publicus "of the people; of the state; done for the state," also "common, general, of or belonging to the people at large; ordinary, vulgar," and as a noun, "a commonwealth; public property." This Latin word was altered (probably by influence of Latin pubes "adult population, adult;" see pubis) from Old Latin poplicus "pertaining to the people," from populus "people" (see people (n.)).
Attested in English from early 15c. as "of or pertaining to the people at large" and from late 15c. as "pertaining to public affairs." The meaning "open to all in the community, to be shared or participated in by people at large" is from 1540s in English. An Old English adjective in this sense was folclic. The sense of "done or made by or on behalf of the community as a whole" is by 1550s; that of "regarding or directed to the interests of the community at large, patriotic" is from c. 1600.
Public relations "the management of the relationship between a company or corporation and the general public" is recorded by 1913 (with an isolated use by Thomas Jefferson in 1807). Public office "position held by a public official" is from 1821; public service is from 1570s; public interest "the common well-being" is from 1670s. Public enemy, one considered a nuisance to the general community, is attested from 1756. Public sector attested from 1949. Public funds (1713) are the funded debts of a government.
Public woman "prostitute" is by 1580s, on the notion of "open for the use of all." For public house, see pub.
"one who provides others with the means and opportunity of gratifying their sexual lusts," c. 1600, of unknown origin, perhaps from French pimpant "alluring in dress, seductive," present participle of pimper "to dress elegantly" (16c.), from Old French pimpelorer, pipelorer "decorate, color, beautify." Weekley suggests French pimpreneau, defined in Cotgrave [French-English Dictionary, 1611] as "a knave, rascall, varlet, scoundrell," but Liberman is against this.
Judging by such recorded meanings of pimp as 'helper in mines; servant in logging camps,' this word was originally applied to boys and servants. [Liberman]
The word also means "informer, stool pigeon" in Australia and New Zealand and in South Africa, where by early 1960s it existed in Swahili form impimpsi. Pimpmobile first recorded 1973 (six years before Popemobile).
PIMP. A male procurer, or cock bawd; also a small faggot used about London for lighting fires, named from introducing the fire to the coals. [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," London, 1785]
Among the lists of late Middle English terms for animal groupings was a pimpe of chickens (or birds), mid-15c., a variant of pipe "flock" (mid-14c.), from Old French pipee.
Middle English never, from Old English næfre "not ever, at no time," a compound of ne "not, no" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + æfre "ever" (see ever). Early used as an emphatic form of not (as still in never mind). Old English, unlike its modern descendant, had the useful custom of attaching ne to words to create their negatives, as in nabban for na habban "not to have."
Italian giammai, French jamais, Spanish jamas are from Latin iam "already" + magis "more;" thus literally "at any time, ever," originally with a negative, but this has been so thoroughly absorbed in sense as to be formally omitted.
Phrase never say die "don't despair" is from 1818. Never Never Land is first attested in Australia as a name for the uninhabited northern part of Queensland (1884), perhaps so called because anyone who had gone there once never wished to return. Meaning "imaginary, illusory or utopian place" is attested by 1900 in American English. J.M. Barrie's use of the full form for the island home of the Lost Boys is by 1905.