1852, "a rocking chair," American English, agent noun from rock (v.1). Middle English had rokker, "nurse charged with rocking a cradle" (early 14c.). In sense of "one of the curved pieces of wood that makes a chair or cradle rock" it dates from 1787. Meaning "one who enjoys rock music" (opposed to mod (n.1)) is recorded from 1963, from rock (v.2).
Slang off (one's) rocker "crazy" is attested by 1897 according to OED; a widely reprinted 1903 newspaper column in U.S. identified it as British slang; the image is perhaps mechanical. To get (off) one's rocker seems to have been used earlier in U.S. baseball slang for "get busy, get active in a game" (1895) and does suggest the rocking-chair.
1843 as the years of someone's life between 40 and 49; from 1840 as the fifth decade of years in a given century. See forty. Also a designation applied in various places and times to certain oligarchies, ruling classes, or governing bodies.
It is well known that society in the island [Guernsey] is, or perhaps we ought to say, for many years was, divided into two sets, called respectively the Sixties and the Forties, the former composed of the old families and those allied to them, the latter of families of newly-acquired wealth and position. [The Dublin Review, October 1877]
Roaring Forties are rough parts of the ocean between 40 and 50 degrees latitude.
also spazz, by 1959, U.S. teen slang phrase, typically in later use a put-down, apparently a derogatory shortening of spastic (n.). Also used as a verb, by 1972, often with out (adv.). Related: Spazzed; spazzing.
My Daddy is a regular spaz. You don't know what a spaz is? Let me tell you. A spaz is a guy who's completely out of this world—but I mean, completely. [Parade Magazine, March 1, 1959]
[Y]our teen-aged daughter asks what you think of her "shades," which you are canny enough to know are her sunglasses, and you say, "cool," and she says, "oh dad, what a spaz!" [Russell Baker column, April 13, 1965]
It forms all or part of: achieve; behead; biceps; cabbage; cabochon; caddie; cadet; cap; cap-a-pie; cape (n.1) "garment;" cape (n.2) "promontory;" capital (adj.); capital (n.3) "head of a column or pillar;" capitate; capitation; capitulate; capitulation; capitulum; capo (n.1) "leader of a Mafia family;" capo (n.2) "pitch-altering device for a stringed instrument;" caprice; capsize; captain; cattle; caudillo; chapter; chef; chief; chieftain; corporal (n.); decapitate; decapitation; forehead; head; hetman; kaput; kerchief; mischief; occipital; precipice; precipitate; precipitation; recapitulate; recapitulation; sinciput; triceps.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit kaput-; Latin caput "head;" Old English heafod, German Haupt, Gothic haubiþ "head."
by 1781, an alteration (by influence of words in quadr-) of quarteroon (1707), "offspring of a white and a mulatto," from Spanish cuarteron (used chiefly of the offspring of a European and a mestizo), literally "one who has a fourth" (Negro blood), from cuarto "fourth," from Latin quartus "the fourth, fourth part," which is related to quattuor "four" (from PIE root *kwetwer- "four").
So called because he or she has one quarter African blood. There also was some use in 19c. of quintroon (from Spanish quinteron) "one who is fifth in descent from a Negro; one who has one-sixteenth Negro blood." OED lists quarter-caste as an Australian and New Zealand term for a person whose ancestry is one-quarter Aboriginal or Maori and 3/4 white (1948).
Old English, "native or inhabitant of Samaria," a district of ancient Palestine, from Late Latin Samaritanus, from Greek Samareitēs, from Samareia (see Samaria). A non-Hebrew race was settled in its cities by the king of Assyria after the removal of the Israelites from the country.
Originally idolaters they soon began to worship Jehovah, but without abandoning their former gods. They afterward became monotheists, and observed the Mosaic law very strictly, but with peculiar variations. About 400 B. C. they built a temple on Mount Gerisim, which was destroyed 130 B. C. They began to decline toward the close of the fifth century after Christ. They still exist, bat are nearly extinct. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
The figurative use for "charitable or benevolent person," with reference to the Biblical story of the good Samaritan in Luke x, is attested from 1630s. As an adjective by late 14c. Related: Samaritanism.
It forms all or part of: Areopagus; appease; appeasement; compact (adj.) "concentrated;" compact (n.1) "agreement;" fang; impact; impale; impinge; newfangled; pace (prep.) "with the leave of;" pacific; pacify; pact; pagan; page (n.1) "sheet of paper;" pageant; pale (n.) "limit, boundary, restriction;" palette; palisade; patio; pawl; pax; pay; peace; peasant; pectin; peel (n.2) "shovel-shaped instrument;" pole (n.1) "stake;" propagate; propagation; travail; travel.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pasa- "cord, rope," pajra- "solid, firm;" Avestan pas- "to fetter;" Greek pegnynai "to fix, make firm, fast or solid," pagos "pinnacle, cliff, rocky hill;" Latin pangere "to fix, to fasten," pagina "column," pagus "district;" Slavonic paž "wooden partition;" Old English fegan "to join," fon "to catch seize."
"next in order after the fifth; an ordinal numeral; being one of six equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" 1520s, replacing Middle English sixte (c. 1200), from Old English syxte, from siex (see six). Compare Old Frisian sexta, Middle Dutch seste, Old High German sehsto, German sechste, Gothic saihsta. With ending conformed to -th (1). Related: Sixthly. The noun meaning "a sixth part" is from 1550s. As a music tone, from 1590s. Sixth sense "supernatural perception of objects" is attested from 1712; earlier it meant "titillation, the sense that apprehends sexual pleasure" (1690s, from Scaliger).
Then said Peter, That is false; for there is a sixth Sense, that of Prescience : for the other five Senses are capable only of Knowledg ; but the Sixth of Foreknowledg ; which Sense the Prophets had. [William Whitson, "Primitive Christianity Reviv'd," vol. v, London, 1712]
"trivial, old-fashioned, worthless," 1913 (from 1912 as a noun, "antiquated or worthless object"), said to be carnival slang and imitative of the sound of banjo music at parades [Barnhart]; compare ricky-tick "old-fashioned jazz" (1938). But early records suggest otherwise unless there are two words. The earliest senses seem to be as a noun, "maltreatment," especially robbery:
So I felt and saw that I was robbed and I went to look after an officer. I found an officer on the corner of Twenty-fifth street and Sixth avenue. I said, "Officer, I have got the rinky-dink." He knew what it meant all right. He said, "Where? Down at that wench house?" I said, "I guess that is right." [testimony dated New York August 9, 1899, published 1900]
And this chorus from the "Yale Literary Magazine," Feb. 1896:
Rinky dinky, rinky dink,
Stand him up for another drink.
fifth month of the modern calendar, early 12c., Mai, from Old French mai and directly from Latin Majus, Maius mensis "month of May," possibly from Maja, Maia, a Roman earth goddess (wife of Vulcan) whose name is of unknown origin; possibly from PIE *mag-ya "she who is great," fem. suffixed form of root *meg- "great" (cognate with Latin magnus).
"[R]eckoned on the continent of Europe and in America as the last month of spring, but in Great Britain as the first of summer" [Century Dictionary, 1897]. Replaced Old English þrimilce, month in which cows can be milked three times a day. May marriages have been considered unlucky at least since Ovid's day. May-apple, perennial herb native to North America, so called for its time of blooming and its yellowish fruit, is attested from 1733, American English.