seemly (adj.)

c. 1200, semeli, semlich, of persons, "of pleasing or good appearance, handsome, fair," also, of conduct, "proper, tasteful, decorous; good for a purpose," and generally, "pleasant, suitable, fitting," probably from Old Norse soemiligr "becoming, honorable," from soemr "fitting" (see seem).

The notion is "suited to the object, occasion, purpose, or character." From late 14c. as "worthy of respect, honorable." Related: Seemliness. A  document from 1440 has seemlity. Old Norse had also soemleitr "fine to look at."

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respectable (adj.)

1580s, "worthy of notice or observation" (a sense now obsolete); 1590s, "worthy of esteem by reason of inherent qualities;" see respect (v.) + -able.

Of persons, "having an honest reputation" from 1755; the sense of "moderately well-to-do and deserving respect for morality; occupying a fairly good position in society" is by 1800. From 1755 as "considerable in size or number;" from 1775 as "not too big, tolerable, fair, mediocre." Related: Respectably.

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belladonna (n.)

1590s, "deadly nightshade" (Atropa belladonna), from Italian, literally "fair lady" (see belle + Donna); the plant so called supposedly because women made cosmetic eye-drops from its juice (a mid-18c. explanation; atropic acid, found in the plant, has a well-known property of dilating the pupils) or because it was used to poison beautiful women (a mid-19c. explanation). Perhaps it is rather a folk-etymology alteration; Gamillscheg suggests it is ultimately of Gaulish origin.

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vanity (n.)

c. 1200, "that which is vain, futile, or worthless," from Old French vanite "self-conceit; futility; lack of resolve" (12c.), from Latin vanitatem (nominative vanitas) "emptiness, aimlessness; falsity," figuratively "vainglory, foolish pride," from vanus "empty, void," figuratively "idle, fruitless," from PIE *wano-, suffixed form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out." Meaning "self-conceited" in English is attested from mid-14c. Vanity table is attested from 1936. Vanity Fair is from "Pilgrim's Progress" (1678).

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mirepoix (n.)

in cookery, a mixture of diced vegetables, 1815, from French, evidently named for Charles Pierre Gaston François, duc de Mirepoix (1699-1757), French diplomat. The concoction supposedly was created by his head chef and named in his honor during the reign of Louis XV, one of the grand epochs of French cookery, when it was the style of the aristocracy to have dishes named in their honor.

MIREPOIX.—It is probable that one of these days the common sense of mankind will rise in rebellion against this word and abolish it. What is the Duke of Mirepoix to us because his wife was amiable to Louis XV.?
      If she be not fair to me,
      What care I how fair she be?
The Duke of Mirepoix made himself convenient to the king, and his name is now convenient to the people—the convenient name for the faggot of vegetables that flavours a stew or a sauce. ["Kettner's Book of the Table," London, 1877]
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exhibit (n.)

1620s, "document or object produced as evidence in court," from Latin exhibitum, noun use of neuter past participle of exhibere "to display, show," "to show, display, present," literally "hold out, hold forth," from ex "out" (see ex-) + habere "to hold" (from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive"). Meaning "object displayed in a fair, museum, etc." is from 1862. Transferred use of exhibit A "important piece of evidence" is by 1906.

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beau (n.)

"attendant suitor of a lady," 1720, from French beau "the beautiful," noun use of an adjective, from Old French bel "beautiful, handsome, fair, genuine, real" (11c.), from Latin bellus "handsome, fine, pretty, agreeable" (see belle). The meaning "man who attends excessively to dress, etiquette, etc.; a fop; a dandy" is from 1680s, short for French beau garçon "pretty boy" (1660s). Plural is beaus or beaux. Beau Brummel, arbiter of men's fashion in Regency London, was George B. Brummel, gentleman (1778-1840).

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white (adj.)

Old English hwit "bright, radiant; clear, fair," also as a noun (see separate entry), from Proto-Germanic *hweit- (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian hwit, Old Norse hvitr, Dutch wit, Old High German hwiz, German weiß, Gothic hveits), from PIE *kweid-o-, suffixed form of root *kweit- "white; to shine" (source also of Sanskrit svetah "white;" Old Church Slavonic sviteti "to shine," svetu "light;" Lithuanian šviesti "to shine," švaityti "to brighten").

As a surname, originally with reference to fair hair or complexion, it is one of the oldest in English, being well-established before the Conquest. Meaning "morally pure" was in Old English. Association with royalist causes is late 18c. Slang sense of "honorable, fair" is 1877, American English; in Middle English it meant "gracious, friendly, favorable." The racial sense "of those races (chiefly European or of European extraction) characterized by light complexion" is recorded from c. 1600; meaning "characteristic of or pertaining to white people" is from 1852, American English. White supremacy attested from 1868, American English [John H. Van Evrie, M.D., "White Supremacy and Negro Subordination," New York, 1868]; white flight is from 1966, American English.

White way "brightly illuminated street in a big city" is from 1908. White flag of truce or surrender is from c. 1600. White lie is attested from 1741. White Christmas is attested from 1847. White House as the name of the U.S. presidential residence is recorded from 1811. White water "river rapids" is recorded from 1580s. White Russian "language of Byelorussia" is recorded from 1850; the mixed drink is from c. 1978. Astronomical white dwarf is from 1924. White witch, one who used the power for good, is from 1620s.

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bolster (v.)

mid-15c. (implied in bolstered), "prop up; make to bulge" (originally of a woman's breasts), from bolster (n.). The figurative sense of "uphold; maintain" a weak or falling cause or object" is from c. 1500, on the notion of "to support with a bolster, prop up." Formerly often negative, implying an unworthy cause or object. Related: Bolstering.

This fair floure of womanheed
Hath too pappys also smalle,
Bolsteryd out of lenghth and breed
Lyche a large campyng balle.
[Lydgate, "My fayr lady," c. 1460]
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late 14c., standard system of weights for gems and precious metals, from Troyes, city in France (Roman (Civitas) Tricassium, capital of the Tricasses, a Celtic people whose name was said to mean "those with three tresses"), former site of an important fair at which this weight is said to have been used. Many medieval towns had their own standard weights. The pound troy contains 5,760 grains and is divided into 12 ounces.

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