a name of the moon goddess, equivalent to Latin Luna, from Greek selēnē "the moon; name of the moon goddess," related to selas "light, brightness, bright flame, flash of an eye." This is reconstructed to be from PIE root *swel- (2) "to shine, beam" (source also of Sanskrit svargah "heaven," Lithuanian svilti "to singe," Old English swelan "to be burnt up," Middle Low German swelan "to smolder") and to be related to swelter and sultry.
Daughter of Hyperion and Theia, sister of Helios. Related: Selenian "of or pertaining to the moon as a world and its supposed inhabitants," 1660s. Another early word for "moon-man, supposed inhabitant of the moon" is selenite (1640s); Greek had selēnitai "moon-dwellers, the men in the moon" (Lucian).
c. 1300, bleik, "pale, pallid," from Old Norse bleikr "pale, whitish, blond," from Proto-Germanic *blaika- "shining, white" (source also of Old Saxon blek "pale, shining," Dutch bleek, Old High German bleih, German bleich), from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn," also "shining white."
The original English sense is obsolete; the meaning "bare, windswept" is from 1530s; the figurative sense of "cheerless" is from c. 1719. The same Germanic root produced Middle English blake "pale" (Old English blac), but this fell from use, probably from confusion with blæc "black" (the surname Blake can mean either "one of pale complexion" or "one of dark complexion"). Bleak has survived, not in the "pale" sense, but meaning only "bare, barren." Related: Bleakly; bleakness.
type of mineral that can be separated easily into extremely thin, tough laminae, 1706, from a Modern Latin specialized use of Latin mica "crumb, bit, morsel, grain." This is sometimes said to be from the same source as Attic Greek mikros "small" (see micro-). The word was applied to the mineral probably on the supposition that it was related to Latin micare "to flash, glitter" (see micacious). However a recent theory of the origin of the Latin noun does derive it from the same root as micare, on the notion of "a glittering crystalline particle" (originally a grain of salt), which de Vaan finds "formally more attractive" than the connection to the Greek word. Older native names for it were glimmer and cat-silver. Related: Micaceous "containing mica" (1748).
"petty crook who will turn his hand to anything so long as it does not involve honest work," 1934, British slang, probably dating back to late 19c. and connected with spiff (see spiffy) in one of its various senses. Being a flashy dresser was a spiv characteristic.
The spiv reached his apotheosis during World War II and the succeeding years, when the disrupted economic conditions allowed ample scope for unofficial trading (a pair of nylons here, a few packets of cigarettes there) and other petty crime. He became a stock figure in the English social comedy, represented on screen by such stereotypes as 'Flash Harry' (played by George Cole) in the St. Trinian's films and Pte. Walker in Dad's Army. [Ayto, "20th Century Words"]
early 15c., from Lowland Scottish, from Gaelic bealltainn "May 1," important Celtic religious rite marking the start of summer, probably literally "blazing fire," from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" + Old Irish ten "fire," from PIE *tepnos, related to Latin tepidus "warm," from PIE root *tep- "to be hot." But this derivation of the second element is hotly disputed by some on philological grounds, and fires were equally important in the other Celtic holidays. Also known as "Old May Day," because after the 1752 calendar reform it continued to be reckoned according to Old Style; it was one of the quarter-days of ancient Scotland.
The rubbish about Baal, Bel, Belus imported into the word from the Old Testament and classical antiquity, is outside the scope of scientific etymology. [OED]
c. 1200, "vessel containing flammable liquid and a wick to lift it by capillary action when lit," from Old French lampe "lamp, lights" (12c.), from Latin lampas "a light, torch, flambeau," from Greek lampas "a torch, oil-lamp, beacon-light, light," from lampein "to shine," perhaps from a nasalized form of PIE root *lehp- "to light, glow" (source also of Lithuanian lopė "light," Hittite lappzi "to glow, flash," Old Irish lassar "flame," Welsh llachar "glow").
Replaced Old English leohtfæt "light vessel." From 19c. in reference to gas and later electric lamps. To smell of the lamp "be a product of laborious night study," said disparagingly of a literary work, is attested from 1570s (compare midnight oil). The Greek stem lampad- formed a number of compounds, some in English, such as lampadomancy (1650s) "divination from variations in the flame of a lamp."
"pretense or evasive story to avoid doing something," 1812, from earlier sense "thief's assistant" (1590s, also staller), from a variant of stale "bird used as a decoy to lure other birds" (mid-15c.), from Anglo-French estale "decoy, pigeon used to lure a hawk" (13c., compare stool pigeon), literally "standstill," from Old French estal "place, stand, stall," from Frankish *stal- "position," ultimately from Germanic and cognate with Old English steall (see stall (n.1)). Compare Old English stælhran "decoy reindeer," German stellvogel "decoy bird." Figurative sense of "deception, means of allurement" is first recorded 1520s. Also see stall (v.2).
The stallers up are gratified with such part of the gains acquired as the liberality of the knuckling gentlemen may prompt them to bestow. [J.H. Vaux, "Flash Dictionary," 1812]
late 14c., "nimble, quick, vigorous" (early 14c. as a surname), a Scottish and northern word, perhaps from a survival of Old English -ræsc (as in ligræsc "flash of lightning") or one of its Germanic cognates, from Proto-Germanic *raskuz (source also of Middle Low German rasch, Middle Dutch rasc "quick, swift," German rasch "quick, fast," Danish rask "brisk, quick"). Related to Old English horsc "quick-witted."
The original senses in English now are obsolete. Sense of "reckless, impetuous, heedless of consequences, hasty in council or action" is attested from c. 1500. Related: Rashly; rashness.
Rashness has the vigor of the Anglo-Saxon, temerity the selectness and dignity of the Latin. Temerity implies personal danger, physical or other .... Rashness is broader in this respect. Rashness goes by the feelings without the judgment ; temerity rather disregards the judgment. Temerity refers rather to the disposition, rashness to the conduct. [Century Dictionary]
Middle English blechen, from Old English blæcan, of cloth or fabric, "to make white by removing color, whiten" (by exposure to chemical agents or the sun), from Proto-Germanic *blaikjan "to make white" (source also of Old Saxon blek, Old Norse bleikr, Dutch bleek, Old High German bleih, German bleich "pale;" Old Norse bleikja, Dutch bleken, German bleichen "to make white, cause to fade"), from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn," also "shining white."
The same root probably produced black (q.v.), perhaps because both black and white are colorless, or because both are associated in different ways with burning. For the contrary senses, compare Old English scimian, meaning both "to shine" and "to dim, grow dusky, grow dark," which is related to the source of shine.
The intransitive sense of "become white" is from 1610s. Related: Bleached; bleaching. The past participle in Middle English was sometimes blaught.
1580s, "nictitate, wink rapidly and repeatedly," perhaps from Middle Dutch blinken "to glitter," which is of uncertain origin, possibly, along with German blinken "to gleam, sparkle, twinkle," from a nasalized form of base found in Old English blican "to shine, glitter" (from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn").
Middle English had blynke (c. 1300) in the sense "a brief gleam or spark," perhaps a variant of blench "to move suddenly or sharply; to raise one's eyelids" (c. 1200), perhaps from the rare Old English blencan "deceive."
The word existed originally with a vague and shifting set of meanings, many now obsolete, having to do with motion of the eyes; in earlier use "the notion of 'glancing' predominates; in the latter, that of 'winking'" [OED].
Blink as "to wink" is attested by 1761. The meaning "cast a sudden, fleeting light" is from 1786; that of "shut the eyes momentarily and involuntarily" is from 1858. Related: Blinked; blinking. The last, as a euphemism for a stronger adjective, is attested by 1914.