quail (n.)

small migratory game bird of the Old World, late 14c. (early 14c. as a surname, Quayle), from Old French quaille (Modern French caille), perhaps via Medieval Latin quaccula (source also of Provençal calha, Italian quaglia, Portuguese calha, Old Spanish coalla), or directly from a Germanic source (compare Dutch kwakkel, Old High German quahtala "quail," German Wachtel, Old English wihtel), imitative of the bird's cry. Or the English word might have come up indigenously from Proto-Germanic.

Slang meaning "young attractive woman" is attested by 1859. Applied to similar birds in the New World.  

Among such, the species of bob-white, as Ortyx virginiana, the common partridge or quail of sportsmen, are the nearest to the Old World species of Coturnix. In the United States, wherever the ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbella, is called pheasant, the bob-white is called partridge: where that grouse is called partridge, the bob-white is known as quail. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
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quail (v.)

c. 1400, "have a morbid craving;" early 15c., "grow feeble or sick, begin to die;" mid-15c., "to fade, fail, give way," probably from Middle Dutch quelen "to suffer, be ill," from Proto-Germanic *kwaljan (source also of Old Saxon quelan "to die," Old High German quelan "die," German quälen "suffer pain"), from PIE root *gwele- "to throw, reach," with extended sense "to pierce."

Or perhaps from obsolete quail "to curdle" (late 14c.), from Old French coailler, from Latin coagulare (see coagulate).

Sense of "lose heart or courage, shrink before a danger or difficulty, cower" is attested from 1550s. According to OED, the word was common 1520-1650, then rare until 19c., when apparently it was revived by Scott. Related: Quailed; quailing.

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quaint (adj.)

c. 1200, cointe, cwointe, "cunning, artful, ingenious; proud," in both good and bad senses, from Old French cointe, queinte "knowledgeable, well-informed; clever; arrogant, proud; elegant, gracious," from Latin cognitus "known, approved," past participle of cognoscere "get or come to know well" (see cognizance). Modern spelling is from early 14c. (see Q).

The old senses all are archaic or obsolete. Perhaps the fuzziness of the good and bad senses in the word contributed to this. Compare Middle English queintise (n.) "wisdom, knowledge," also "guile, cunning, deceit" (c. 1300).

Later in English, quaint came to mean "elaborate, skillfully made" (c. 1300); "strange and clever, fanciful, odd whimsical" (mid-14c.). The sense of "unusual or old-fashioned but charming or agreeable" is attested by 1782, and at that time could describe the word itself, which had become rare after c. 1700 (though it soon recovered popularity in this secondary sense). Related: Quaintly; quaintness.

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quake (n.)

early 14c., "a trembling in fear," from quake (v.). Rare except in combinations, and now usually as a shortening of earthquake, in which use it is attested from 1640s. Old English had the verbal noun cwacung "shaking, trembling." Also compare Middle English quavinge of erþe "an earthquake" (14c.), earthquave (n.), early 15c.

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quake (v.)

Middle English quaken, from Old English cwacian "quake (of the earth), tremble, shudder (of persons, from cold, emotion, fear, fever, etc.), chatter (of teeth)," related to cweccan "to shake, swing, move, vibrate," words of unknown origin with no certain cognates outside English. Perhaps somehow imitative (compare quag, quaver, quiver (v.), Middle English quaven "tremble, shake, palpitate," c. 1200). Related: Quaked; quaking. In Middle English formerly also with strong past-participle form quoke. The North American quaking aspen is so called by 1822.

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Quaker (n.)

"a member of the Christian denomination known as the Religious Society of Friends," 1651, said to have been applied to them in 1650 by Justice Bennett at Derby, from George Fox's admonition to his followers to "tremble at the Word of the Lord;" but the word was used earlier of foreign sects given to fits of shaking during religious fervor, and that is likely the source here. Either way, it never was an official name of the Religious Society of Friends.

The word in a literal sense of "one who or that which trembles" is attested from early 15c., an agent noun from quake (v.). The notion of "trembling" in religious awe is in Old English; quaking (n.) meaning "fear and reverence" especially in religion is attested from mid-14c.

There is not a word in the Scripture, to put David's condition into rime and meeter: sometimes he quaked and trembled, and lay roaring all the day long, that he watered his bed with his tears: and how can you sing these conditions (but dishonour the Lord) and say all your bones quake, your flesh trembled, and that you water your bed with your tears? when you live in pride and haughtiness, and pleasure, and wantonness .... ["A Brief Discovery of a threefold estate of Antichrist Now Extant in the world, etc.," an early Quaker work, London, 1653]

Figuratively, as an adjective, in reference to plain or drab colors (such as were worn by members of the sect) is by 1775. A Quaker gun (1809, American English), originally a log painted black and propped up to resemble the barrel of a cannon to deceive the enemy from a distance, is so called for the sect's noted pacifism. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has been known as the Quaker City at least since 1824. Related: Quakerish; Quakeress ("a female Quaker"); Quakerism; Quakerdom; Quakerly.

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quale (n.)

an obsolete word for "death; a plague; a murrain," Middle English, from Old English cwalu "slaughter, destruction," cognate with Old Norse kval "torment, torture," from a variant of the root of quell.

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qualification (n.)

1540s, "restriction, limitation, modification," from French qualification and directly from Medieval Latin qualificationem (nominative qualificatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of qualificare (see qualify). Meaning "an accomplishment, etc. that adapts someone to a particular circumstance or employment" is from 1660s; that of "necessary precondition" is from 1723. Related: Qualifications.

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qualified (adj.)

1580s, "fitted by accomplishments or endowments;" 1590s, "affected by some degree of restriction or modification;" past-participle adjective from qualify (v.). By 1886 and into mid-20c. as a British English euphemism for bloody or damned.

To be competent is to have the natural abilities or the general training necessary for any given work ; to be qualified is to have, in addition to competency, a special training, enabling one to begin the work effectively and at once. He who is competent may or may not require time to becomequalified; he who is not competent cannot become qualified, for it is not in him. [Century Dictionary]
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qualifier (n.)

"one who or that which qualifies" in any sense, 1560s, agent noun from qualify. Grammatical sense of "a word that qualifies another, modifying or reducing the meaning of a noun, verb, etc." is from 1580s. The Church court office of qualificator is attested from 1680s.

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