1856, from phrase to speak with one's tongue in one's cheek "to speak insincerely" (1748), suggestive of sly irony or humorous insincerity, perhaps a stage trick to convey irony to the audience.
Hem! Pray, Sir, said he to the Bard, after thrusting his Tongue into a Corner of his Cheek, and rolling his Eyes at Miss Willis, (Tricks which he had caught by endeavouring to take off a celebrated Comedian) were these fine Tragedies of yours ever acted? [anonymous, "Emily, or the History of a Natural Daughter," 1761]
This arietta, however, she no sooner began to perform, than he and the justice fell asleep ; but the moment she ceased playing, the knight waked snorting, and exclaimed,—'O cara! what d'ye think, gentlemen? Will you talk any more of your Pargolesi and your Corelli ?'—At the same time, he thrust his tongue in one cheek, and leered with one eye at the doctor and me, who sat on his left hand—He concluded the pantomime with a loud laugh, which he could command at all times extempore. [Smollett, "The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker," 1771]
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself—that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word—doublethink—involved the use of doublethink. ["Nineteen Eighty-Four"]
"knowing, wise," 1630s, from a Scottish and northern English formation from can (v.1) in its sense of "know how to," + -y (2). A doublet of cunning that flowered into distinct senses in Scottish English. In the glossary to Scott's "Heart of Mid-Lothian" (1818) uncanny is defined as "dangerous," while canny, as used in the tale, is defined as "skilful, prudent, lucky ; in a superstitious sense, good-conditioned, and safe to deal with ; trustworthy ; quiet." Cannily is "gently" and canny moment is "an opportune or happy time."
"Knowing," hence, from 18c., "careful, skillful, clever," also "frugal, thrifty," and, from early 19c. (perhaps via Scott's novels) "cautious, wary, shrewd." Often used superciliously of Scots by their southern neighbors (and their American cousins).
The Canny Scot is so well known as scarcely to require description. He carries caution, cunning, and selfishness to excess. Deceitful when a purpose is to be accomplished, he is not habitually deceitful. One thing he never loses sight of—his own interest. But of his own interest he is not the most enlightened judge. ["The Natural History of Scotsmen," in The Argosy, December 1865]
Related: Cannily; canniness.
1737, "a medicine which excites vomiting;" by 1938 as "material thrown up in vomiting," from puke (v.). U.S. colloquial meaning "native of Missouri" (1835) might be a different word, of unknown origin.
It is well known, that the inhabitants of the several western States are called by certain nicknames. Those of Michigan are called wolverines; of Indiana, hooshers; of Illinois, suckers; of Ohio, buckeyes; of Kentucky, corn-crackers; of Missouri pukes, &c. To call a person by his right nickname, is always taken in good part, and gives no offence; but nothing is more offensive than to mis-nickname—that is, were you to call a hoosher a wolverine, his blood would be up in a moment, and he would immediately show fight. [A.A. Parker, "Trip to the West and Texas," Concord, N.H., 1835]
Bartlett (1859) has "A nickname for a native of Missouri" as the second sense of puke (n.), the first being "A mean, contemptible fellow." The association of the state nickname with the "vomit" word is from at least 1858, and folk etymology talks of the old state literally vomiting forth immigrants to California.
Middle English nou, from Old English nu "at the present time, at this moment, immediately; now that," also used as an interjection and as an introductory word; from Proto-Germanic *nu (source also of Old Norse nu, Dutch nu, Old Frisian nu, German nun, Gothic nu "now"), from PIE *nu "now" (source also of Sanskrit and Avestan nu, Old Persian nuram, Hittite nuwa, Greek nu, nun, Latin nunc, Old Church Slavonic nyne, Lithuanian nū, Old Irish nu-). Perhaps originally "newly, recently," and related to the root of new.
Since Old English often merely emphatic, without a temporal sense (as in now then, which is attested from early 13c.). As a noun, "the present time," from late 14c. The adjective meaning "up to date" was revived by 1967, but the word was used also as an adjective with the sense of "current" from late 14c. through 18c. Now and then "occasionally, at one time and another" is from mid-15c.; now or never attested from early 13c. (nu oþer neure).
in golf, c. 1891, originally "number of strokes a good player is supposed to need for a given hole or course;" later, "score one over par" (1946); from the same source as bogey (n.1), on the notion of a "phantom" opponent, represented by the "ground score." The word was in vogue at the time in Britain through the popularity of a music-hall tune "Hush, Hush, Hush, Here Comes the Bogey Man."
One popular song at least has left its permanent effect on the game of golf. That song is 'The Bogey Man.' In 1890 Dr. Thos. Browne, R.N., the hon. secretary of the Great Yarmouth Club, was playing against a Major Wellman, the match being against the 'ground score,' which was the name given to the scratch value of each hole. The system of playing against the 'ground score' was new to Major Wellman, and he exclaimed, thinking of the song of the moment, that his mysterious and well-nigh invincible opponent was a regular 'bogey-man.' The name 'caught on' at Great Yarmouth, and to-day 'Bogey' is one of the most feared opponents on all the courses that acknowledge him. [1908, cited in OED]
Other early golfing sources give it an American origin. As a verb, attested by 1948.
Old English bisignes (Northumbrian) "care, anxiety, occupation," from bisig "careful, anxious, busy, occupied, diligent" (see busy (adj.)) + -ness. The original sense is obsolete, as is the Middle English sense of "state of being much occupied or engaged" (mid-14c.), the latter replaced by busyness. Johnson's dictionary also has busiless "At leisure; without business; unemployed." Modern two-syllable pronunciation is 17c.
Sense of "a person's work, occupation, that which one does for a livelihood" is first recorded late 14c. (in late Old English bisig (adj.) appears as a noun with the sense "occupation, state of employment"). Sense of "that which is undertaken as a duty" is from late 14c. Meaning "what one is about at the moment" is from 1590s. Sense of "trade, commercial engagements, mercantile pursuits collectively" is first attested 1727, on the notion of "matters which occupy one's time and attention." In 17c. business also could mean "sexual intercourse."
Business card first attested 1840; business letter from 1766. Business end "the practical or effective part" (of something) is American English, by 1874. Phrase business as usual attested from 1865. To mean business "be intent on serious action" is from 1856. To mind (one's) own business "attend to one's affairs and not meddle with those of others" is from 1620s.
Old English hit, neuter nominative and accusative of third person singular pronoun, from Proto-Germanic demonstrative base *khi- (source also of Old Frisian hit, Dutch het, Gothic hita "it"), from PIE *ko- "this" (see he). Used in place of any neuter noun, hence, as gender faded in Middle English, it took on the meaning "thing or animal spoken about before."
The h- was lost due to being in an unemphasized position, as in modern speech the h- in "give it to him," "ask her," is heard only "in the careful speech of the partially educated" [Weekley]. It "the sex act" is from 1610s; meaning "sex appeal (especially in a woman)" first attested 1904 in works of Rudyard Kipling, popularized 1927 as title of a book by Elinor Glyn, and by application of It Girl to silent-film star Clara Bow (1905-1965). In children's games, the meaning "the one who must tag or catch the others" is attested from 1842.
From Old English as nominative of an impersonal verb or statement when the thing for which it stands is implied (it rains, it pleases me). After an intransitive verb, used transitively for the action denoted, from 1540s (originally in fight it out). That's it "there is no more" is from 1966; this is it "the anticipated or dreaded moment has arrived" is from 1942.
coined 1958 by San Francisco newspaper columnist Herb Caen during the heyday of -nik suffixes in the wake of Sputnik. From Beat generation (1952), associated with beat (n.) in its meaning "rhythm (especially in jazz)" as well as beat (adj.) "worn out, exhausted," and Century Dictionary (1902) has slang beat (n.) "a worthless, dishonest, shiftless fellow." Originator Jack Kerouac in 1958 connected it with beatitude.
The origins of the word beat are obscure, but the meaning is only too clear to most Americans. More than the feeling of weariness, it implies the feeling of having been used, of being raw. It involves a sort of nakedness of the mind. [New York Times Magazine, Oct. 2, 1952]
"Beat" is old carny slang. According to Beat Movement legend (and it is a movement with a deep inventory of legend), Ginsberg and Kerouac picked it up from a character named Herbert Huncke, a gay street hustler and drug addict from Chicago who began hanging around Times Square in 1939 (and who introduced William Burroughs to heroin, an important cultural moment). The term has nothing to do with music; it names the condition of being beaten down, poor, exhausted, at the bottom of the world. [Louis Menand, New Yorker, Oct. 1, 2007]
also pip-squeak, contemptuous name for an insignificant person, 1910, from the trivial noise a young or weak creature makes. In World War I it was the soldier's slang name for a small German shell "which makes both a pip and a squeak when it comes over the trenches" [Farrow, "Dictionary of Military Terms," 1918]. Pip and Squeak (and later Wilfred), the beloved English comic strip animals, debuted May 1919 in the children's section of the Daily Mirror. To squeeze (something) until the pips squeak "exact the maximum from" is attested by 1918, from pip (n.1).
The grossest spectacle was provided by Sir Eric Geddes in the Guildhall at Cambridge. An earlier speech in which, in a moment of injudicious candour, he had cast doubts on the possibility of extracting from Germany the whole cost of the war had been the object of serious suspicion, and he had therefore a reputation to regain. "We will get out of her all you can squeeze out of a lemon and a bit more," the penitent shouted, "I will squeeze her until you can hear the pips squeak" ; his policy was to take every bit of property belonging to Germans in neutral and Allied countries, and all her gold and silver and her jewels, and the contents of her picture-galleries and libraries, to sell the proceeds for the Allies' benefit. [John Maynard Keynes, "The Economic Consequences of Peace," 1919]