Etymology
Advertisement
cocktail (n.)

"strong, stimulating, cold American drink," first attested 1806; H.L. Mencken lists seven versions of its origin, perhaps the most durable traces it to French coquetier "egg-cup" (15c.; in English cocktay). In New Orleans, c. 1795, Antoine Amédée Peychaud, an apothecary (and inventor of Peychaud bitters) held Masonic social gatherings at his pharmacy, where he mixed brandy toddies with his own bitters and served them in an egg-cup. On this theory, the drink took the name of the cup.

Ayto ("Diner's Dictionary") derives it from cocktail "horse with a docked tail" (one cut short, which makes it stand up somewhat like a cock's comb) because such a method of dressing the tail was given to ordinary horses, the word came to be extended to "horse of mixed pedigree" (not a thoroughbred) by 1800, and this, it is surmised, was extended to the drink on the notion of "adulteration, mixture."

Used from 1920s of any mix of substances (fruit, Molotov). Cocktail party attested by 1907.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
weasel (v.)

"to deprive (a word or phrase) of its meaning," 1900, from weasel (n.); so used because the weasel sucks out the contents of eggs, leaving the shell intact. Both this and weasel-word are first attested in "The Stained-Glass Political Platform," a short story by Stewart Chaplin, first printed in Century Magazine, June 1900:

"Why, weasel words are words that suck all the life out of the words next to them, just as a weasel sucks an egg and leaves the shell. If you heft the egg afterward it's as light as a feather, and not very filling when you're hungry; but a basketful of them would make quite a show, and would bamboozle the unwary."

They were picked up at once in American political slang. The sense of "extricate oneself (from a difficult place) like a weasel" is first recorded 1925; that of "to evade and equivocate" is from 1956. Related: Weasled; weasling.

Related entries & more 
tercel (n.)
"male falcon," late 14c., from Old French tercel (c. 1200), from Medieval Latin tertiolus, from Latin tertius "third, a third," from root of tres "three" (see three). Various theories as to why it is called this; one says it's because the males are a third smaller than the females, another because a third egg in the nest (smaller than the other two) is believed always to produce a male bird.
Related entries & more 
surrogate (n.)
early 15c., from Latin surrogatus, past participle of surrogare/subrogare "put in another's place, substitute," from assimilated form of sub "in the place of, under" (see sub-) + rogare "to ask, propose," apparently a figurative use of a PIE verb meaning literally "to stretch out (the hand)," from root *reg- "move in a straight line." Meaning "woman pregnant with the fertilized egg of another woman" is attested from 1978 (from 1972 of animals; surrogate mother in a psychological sense is from 1971). As an adjective from 1630s.
Related entries & more 
metamorphosis (n.)

1530s, "change of form or structure, action or process of changing in form," originally especially by witchcraft, from Latin metamorphosis, from Greek metamorphōsis "a transforming, a transformation," from metamorphoun "to transform, to be transfigured," from meta, here indicating "change" (see meta-) + morphē "shape, form," a word of uncertain etymology.

The biological sense of "extensive transformations an animal (especially an insect) undergoes after it leaves the egg" is from 1660s. As the title of Ovid's work, late 14c., Metamorphoseos, from Latin Metamorphoses (plural).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
Humpty-dumpty (n.)

French nursery rhyme hero (the rhyme first attested in English 1810), earlier "a short, clumsy person of either sex" (1785), probably a reduplication of Humpty, a pet form of Humphrey. Compare Georgy-porgy, etc. Originally, humpty-dumpty was a drink (1690s), "ale boiled with brandy," probably from hump and dump, but the connection is obscure and there might not be one.

'It's very provoking,' Humpty Dumpty said, ... 'to be called an egg — very!' ["Through the Looking-Glass," 1872]
Related entries & more 
prairie-oyster (n.)

"salted and peppered raw egg, drunk in booze or vinegar," by 1878, American English, from prairie + oyster (in reference to the taste or the method of consuming it). Also called prairie-cocktail (1889). Prairie-oyster as "fried calf testicle," considered a delicacy, is by 1941.

PRAIRIE OYSTER. This simple but very nutritious drink may be taken by any person of the most delicate digestion, and has become one of the most popular delicacies since its introduction by me at Messrs. Spiers and Pond's. Its mode of preparation is very simple. Into a wine glass pat a new-laid egg ; add half a tea-spoonful of vinegar, dropping it gently down on the inside of the glass ; then drop on the yolk a little common salt, sufficient not to quite cover half the size of a threepenny-piece; pepper according to taste, The way to take this should be by placing the glass with the vinegar furthest from the mouth and swallow the contents. The vinegar being the last gives it more of an oyster-like flavour. [Leo Engel, "American & Other Drinks," London, 1878]
Related entries & more 
hull (n.2)
"body of a ship," 1550s, usually said to be identical with hull (n.1) on fancied resemblance of ship keels to open peapods. Compare Latin carina "keel of a ship," originally "shell of a nut;" Greek phaselus "light passenger ship, yacht," literally "bean pod;" French coque "hull of a ship; shell of a walnut or egg." The alternative etymology is from Middle English hoole "ship's keel" (mid-15c.), from the same source as hold (n.) and conformed to hull (n.1).
Related entries & more 
poulter (n.)

the earlier form of poulterer (q.v.). Poetic poulter's measure (1570s), a combination of lines of 12 and 14 syllables, is said to be so called for suggesting "the poulter's old practice of giving an extra egg with the second dozen." [Miller Williams, "Patterns of Poetry," 1986].

The commonest sort of verse which we vse now adayes (viz. the long verse of twelue and fourtene sillables) I know not certainly howe to name it, vnlesse I should say that it doth consist of Poulter's measure, which giueth xii. for one dozen and xiiij. for another. [George Gascoigne]
Related entries & more 
robin (n.)

common small European songbird, 1540s, a shortening of Robin Redbreast (mid-15c.), from masc. personal name Robin, also (in reference to the bird) in the diminutive form robinet. Redbreast alone for the bird is from early 15c., and the Robin might have been added for the alliteration. It ousted the native ruddock. In North America, the name was applied to the red-breasted thrush by 1703.

Robin's egg as a shade of somewhat greenish blue is attested from 1881; it refers to the North American species; the English robin's eggs are pinkish-white and freckled with purplish-red.

Related entries & more 

Page 7