late 14c., in hunting, relai, "hounds placed along a line of chase" (to replace those that tire), from Old French relais "reserve pack of hounds or other animals; rest, stop, remission, delay" (13c.), from relaier "to exchange tired animals for fresh," literally "leave behind," from re- "back" (see re-) + laier "leave, let."
This is perhaps a variant of Old French laissier, (compare Old French relaisser "release"), from Latin laxare "slacken, undo" (see lax (adj.)). But Watkins has it from Frankish *laibjan, from a Proto-Germanic causative form of PIE root *leip- "to stick, adhere."
The etymological sense is "to leave (dogs) behind (in order to take fresh ones)." Of horses, 1650s. As "a squad of men to take a spell or turn of work at stated intervals," by 1808. As a type of foot-race, it is attested from 1898. The electromagnetic instrument is attested by name from 1860, originally in telegraphy.
Middle English smert, from late Old English smeart, in reference to hits, blows, etc., "stinging; causing a sharp pain," related to smeortan "be painful" (see smart (v.)). The adjective is not represented in the cognate languages.
Of speech or words, "harsh, injurious, unpleasant," c. 1300; thus "pert, impudent; on the impertinent side of witty" (by 1630s). In reference to persons, "quick, active, intelligent, clever," 1620s, perhaps from the notion of "cutting" wit, words, etc., or else "keen in bargaining."
From 1718 in cant as "fashionably elegant;" by 1798 as "trim in attire," "ascending from the kitchen to the drawing-room c. 1880" [Weekley]. For sense evolution, compare sharp (adj.); at one time or another smart also had the extended senses in sharp.
Attested from late 12c. as a surname, earlier as a component in them, including Christiana Smartknave (1279). In reference to devices, the sense of "behaving as though guided by intelligence" is attested by 1972 (smart bomb, also the computing smart terminal). The figurative smart cookie "clever, perceptive person" is from 1948.
c. 1600, "European wild ox," from French bison (15c.), from Latin bison "wild ox," borrowed from Proto-Germanic *wisand- "aurochs" (source also of Old Norse visundr, Old High German wisunt "bison," Old English/Middle English wesend, which is not attested after c. 1400). Possibly ultimately of Baltic or Slavic origin, and meaning "the stinking animal," in reference to its scent while rutting (see weasel).
The animal formerly was widespread on the continent, including the British Isles, but in 20c. they survived in the wild only on a forest reserve in Poland. Not to be confused with the aurochs. The name also was applied 1690s to the North American species commonly mis-called a buffalo, which formerly ranged as far as Virginia and Georgia but by 1902 was deemed by Century Dictionary "apparently soon to become extinct as a wild animal." It has since recovered numbers on federal land. Related: Bisontine.
11c., from Old English ginȝifer, ginȝiber, from Late Latin gingiber, from Latin zingiberi, from Greek zingiberis, from Prakrit (Middle Indic) singabera, from Sanskrit srngaveram, from srngam "horn" + vera- "body," so called from the shape of its root. But this may be Sanskrit folk etymology, and the word may be from an ancient Dravidian word that also produced the modern name for the spice, inchi-ver (inchi "ginger", ver "root").
Bishop Caldwell and Drs. Burnell and Gundert considered that the Tamil iñci must have had an initial ś- formerly, that the Sanskrit śṛṅgabera was an imitation of the (supposititious) Tamil ciñcivēr and that European zingiber was derived from the Tamil name. [R. Swaminatha Aiyar, Dravidian Theories]
The word apparently was readopted in Middle English from Old French gingibre (12c., Modern French gingembre). In reference to coloring, by 1785 of fighting cocks, 1885 of persons (gingery with reference to hair is from 1852). The meaning "spirit, spunk, temper" is from 1843, American English (see gin (v.1)).
Ginger-ale is recorded by 1822, the term adopted by manufacturers to distinguish their product from ginger beer (1809), which was sometimes fermented. Ginger-snap as a type of hard cookie flavored with ginger is by 1855, American English.
Old English is "ice, piece of ice" (also the name of the Anglo-Saxon rune for -i-), from Proto-Germanic *is- "ice" (source also of Old Norse iss, Old Frisian is, Dutch ijs, German Eis), of uncertain origin; possible relatives are Avestan aexa- "frost, ice," isu- "frosty, icy;" Afghan asai "frost." Slang meaning "diamonds" is attested from 1906.
Modern spelling begins to appear 15c. and makes the word look French. On ice "kept out of the way until wanted" is from 1890. Thin ice in the figurative sense is from 1884. To break the ice "to make the first opening to any attempt" is from 1580s, metaphoric of making passages for boats by breaking up river ice though in modern use it usually has implications of "cold reserve." Ice-fishing is from 1869; ice-scraper is from 1789 in cookery.
late 14c. (mid-13c. in Anglo-Latin), "a kind of laced bodice, close-fitting body garment," from Old French corset (13c.) "bodice, tunic," diminutive of cors "body," from Latin corpus "body" (from PIE root *kwrep- "body, form, appearance").
Meaning "stiff supporting and constricting undergarment for the waist, worn chiefly by women to shape the figure," is from 1795. They fell from fashion in the changing fashions after World War I. Related: Corseted, corsetted (1829); corseting; corsetry.
With the short skirt went an extraordinary change in the weight and material and amount of women's clothing. The boyishly slender figure became the aim of every woman's ambition, and the corset was so far abandoned that even in so short a period as the three years from 1924 to 1927 the combined sales of corsets and brassières in the department stores of the Cleveland Federal Reserve District fell off 11 per cent. [Frederick Lewis Allen, "Only Yesterday," 1931]
Middle English crokke, from Old English crocc, crocca "pot, earthen vessel, pitcher, or jar," from Proto-Germanic *krogu "pitcher, pot" (source also of Old Frisian krocha "pot," Old Saxon kruka, Middle Dutch cruke, Dutch kruik, Old High German kruog "pitcher," German Krug, Old Norse krukka "pot"). These all are perhaps from the same source as Middle Irish crocan "pot," Greek krossos "pitcher," Old Church Slavonic krugla "cup."
Specifically a receptacle for meal, butter, milk, etc., or in cooking; usually an earthen vessel but sometimes of brass or iron.
Used as an image of worthless rubbish since 19c., perhaps from the use of crockery as chamberpots. But there were other uses of crock, of uncertain relationship, such as "an old ewe" (1520s, Scottish), used contemptuously of debilitated or invalid persons (19c.). Also compare Middle English croke, crok "a hull, husk," figuratively "refuse," Low German krak "a thing of no value," colloquial English crock "soot, smut" (1650s).
Middle English bench, from Old English benc "long seat," especially one without a back, from Proto-Germanic *bankon(source also of Old Frisian bank "bench," Old Norse bekkr, Danish bænk, Middle Dutch banc, Old High German banch). The group is cognate with bank (n.2) "natural earthen incline beside a body of water," and perhaps the original notion is "man-made earthwork used as a seat."
Used from late 14c. of a merchant's table. From c. 1300 in reference to the seat where judges sat in court, hence, by metonymy, "judges collectively, office of a judge." Hence also bencher "senior member of an inn of court" (1580s). The sporting sense "reserve of players" (in baseball, North American football, etc.) is by 1909, from a literal sense in reference to where players sit when not in action (attested by 1889). A bench-warrant (1690s) is one issued by a judge, as opposed to one issued by an ordinary justice or magistrate.
mid-14c., "authority entrusted to someone, delegated authority or power," from Old French commission and directly from Latin commissionem (nominative commissio) "act of committing," in Medieval Latin "delegation of business," noun of action from past participle stem of committere "to unite, connect, combine; to bring together," from com "with, together" (see com-) + mittere "to release, let go; send, throw" (see mission).
Meaning "document delegating authority" is from early 15c.; meaning "body of persons charged with authority for the performance of certain special duties" is from late 15c. Sense of "anything entrusted to anyone to perform" is from 1560s; sense of "act of committing or doing" is from 1590s.
Naval sense "period of active service of a warship" is by 1882 (in commission "under the command of an officer" is from 1733). Hence out of commission "laid up in a navy yard or in reserve" (1878), subsequently extended to other machinery, and, figuratively, to persons or human qualities by 1917.
In commercial use, "authority delegated by another for the purchase and sale of goods," 1620s. Meaning "allowance made or percentage given to an agent for transacting business" is from 1725.
also corner-stone, late 13c., "stone which lies at the corner of two walls and unites them" (often the starting point of a building), hence, figuratively, "that on which anything is founded;" from corner (n.) + stone (n.). The figurative use is biblical (Isaiah xxvii.16, Job xxxviii.6, Ephesians ii.20), rendering Latin lapis angularis.
In U.S. history, Alexander H. Stephens's Cornerstone speech explaining the new Confederate constitution was given at Savannah, Georgia, March 21, 1861. The image is older in U.S. political discourse and originally referred to the federal union.
I endorse without reserve the much abused sentiment of Governor M'Duffie, that "Slavery is the corner-stone of our republican edifice;" while I repudiate, as ridiculously absurd, that much lauded but nowhere accredited dogma of Mr. Jefferson, that "all men are born equal." No society has ever yet existed, and I have already incidentally quoted the highest authority to show that none ever will exist, without a natural variety of classes. [James H. Hammond, "Letter to an English Abolitionist" 1845]