"a timber of considerable size set upright," from Old English post "pillar, doorpost," and from Old French post "post, upright beam," both from Latin postis "door, post, doorpost," in Medieval Latin "a beam, rod, pole," which is perhaps from Vulgar Latin *por- "forth," a variant of pro- (see pro-) + stare "to stand" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm").
Similar compounds are Sanskrit prstham "back, roof, peak," Avestan parshti "back," Greek pastas "porch in front of a house, colonnade," Middle High German virst "ridgepole," Lithuanian pirštas, Old Church Slavonic pristu "finger" (PIE *por-st-i-).
Later also of metal. As a type of hardness, lifelessness, deafness by early 15c.
Meaning "cheap, raw whiskey" is attested from 1781, also sometimes "gin." Lightning bug "firefly, phosphorescent beetle" is attested from 1778. Lightning rod from 1790.
"pointed pin of wood, metal, or other material," mid-15c., pegge, from Middle Dutch pegge "peg," or a similar Low German word (Low German pigge "peg," German Pegel "gauge rod, watermark," Middle Dutch pegel "little knob used as a mark," Dutch peil "gauge, watermark, standard"); of uncertain origin; perhaps from PIE *bak- "staff used as support" (see bacillus).
To be a square peg in a round hole (or the reverse) "be inappropriate for one's situation" is attested by 1836; to take someone down a peg "humble, lower the esteem of" is from 1580s, but the original literal sense is uncertain (most of the sensibly plausible candidates are not attested until centuries later). Peg leg "wooden leg of the simplest form" is attested from 1765.
early 15c., "slender, flexible rod for exploring the conditions of wounds or other cavities in the body," also "a medical examination," from Medieval Latin proba "examination," in Late Latin "a test, proof," from Latin probare "show, demonstrate; test, inspect; judge by trial" (see prove).
Meaning "act of probing" is 1890, from the verb; figurative sense of "penetrating investigation" is from 1903, probably extended from the verb in this sense. Meaning "small, unmanned exploratory craft" is attested from 1953.
"Probe to the bottom," says President Roosevelt of the postal steals. Yes—"probe to the bottom," but don't overlook the top. What is needed quite as much as a probe—in fact, for the proper use of the probe—is a postmaster-general in the place of Payne, the mere partisan and convention fixer. [Chattanooga Daily Times, June 3, 1903]
"cylinder or frame turning on an axis," especially one on which thread, yarn, string, etc. is wound after being spun, Middle English rele, from late Old English reol, hreol "reel for winding thread," from Proto-Germanic *hrehulaz; probably related to hrægel "garment," and Old Norse hræll "spindle" (from PIE *krek- "to weave, beat;" source also of Greek krokus "nap of cloth").
Specifically of the fishing rod attachment from 1726. Of a film projector apparatus from 1896, hence in movie jargon "a length of film wound on one reel" as a part of a whole motion picture. With a number (two-reeler, typical of snort comedy, etc.) indicating film length (by 1916). Reel-to-reel as a type of tape deck is attested from 1958.
"to bend, twist, distort," Old English weorpan "to throw, throw away, hit with a missile," from Proto-Germanic *werpanan "to fling by turning the arm" (source also of Old Saxon werpan, Old Norse verpa "to throw," Swedish värpa "to lay eggs," Old Frisian werpa, Middle Low German and Dutch werpen, German werfen, Gothic wairpan "to throw"), from PIE *werp- "to turn, wind, bend" (source also of Latin verber "whip, rod"), from root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend."
Connection between "turning" and "throwing" is perhaps in the notion of rotating the arm in the act of throwing; compare Old Church Slavonic vrešti "to throw," from the same PIE root. The meaning "twist out of shape" is first recorded c. 1400; intransitive sense is from mid-15c. Related: Warped; warping.
c. 1200, "unmarried or chaste woman noted for religious piety and having a position of reverence in the Church," from Anglo-French and Old French virgine "virgin; Virgin Mary," from Latin virginem (nominative virgo) "maiden, unwedded girl or woman," also an adjective, "fresh, unused," probably related to virga "young shoot," via a notion of "young" (compare Greek talis "a marriageable girl," cognate with Latin talea "rod, stick, bar").
Meaning "young woman in a state of inviolate chastity" is recorded from c. 1300. Also applied since early 14c. to a chaste man. Meaning "naive or inexperienced person" is attested from 1953. The adjective is recorded from 1550s in the literal sense; figurative sense of "pure, untainted" is attested from c. 1300. The Virgin Islands were named (in Spanish) by Columbus for St. Ursula and her 11,000 martyred virgin companions.
late Old English hrung "rod, cross-bar; stout, rounded stick," from Proto-Germanic *khrungo (source also of Middle Low German runge, Old High German runga "stake, stud, stave," German Runge "stake, stud, stave," Middle Dutch ronghe, Dutch rong "rung," Gothic hrugga "staff"), a word of unknown origin with no connections outside Germanic if as is supposed the Celtic words are from English.
The sense in English narrowed to mean usually "round or stave of a ladder" (attested from late 13c.), but usage of cognate words remains more general in other Germanic languages.
This [rungs] has generally been considered as a mere corruption of rounds; and people of education use only this latter word. [John Pickering, "A Vocabulary or Collection of Words and Phrases which have been Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America," Boston, 1816]
"beam of light, light emitted in a given direction from a luminous body," early 14c., rai, from Old French rai (nominative rais) "ray (of the sun), spoke (of a wheel); gush, spurt," from Latin radius "ray, spoke, staff, rod" (see radius). Not common before 17c. [OED]; of the sun, usually in reference to heat (beam being preferred for light).
Ray is usually distinguished from beam, as indicating a smaller amount of light; in scientific use a beam is a collection of parallel rays. In ordinary language ray is the word usually employed when the reference is to the heat rather than the light of the sun .... [OED]
Science fiction's ray-gun is recorded by 1931 (in Amazing Stories; electric ray gun as an imaginary weapon is from 1924; death-ray gun from 1926 as a prop in a vaudeville act), but the Martians had a Heat-Ray weapon in "War of the Worlds" (1898).