late 14c., "flow of rhythm in prose or verse," from French cadence, from Old Italian cadenza "conclusion of a movement in music," literally "a falling," from Vulgar Latin *cadentia, from neuter plural of Latin cadens, present participle of cadere "to fall" (from PIE root *kad- "to fall"). A doublet of chance (n.).
The notion is of a "fall" in the voice in reading aloud or speaking, as at the end of a sentence, also the rising and falling in modulation of tones in reciting. Later (1590s) extended to music, in reference to a sequence of chords expressing conclusion at the end of a phrase and resolving to the key in which the piece was written. Also the measure or beat of any rhythmic movement (c. 1600). In 16c., sometimes used literally for "an act of falling." Related: Cadential.
punctuation mark, 1520s as a Latin word, nativized by 1590s, from Latin comma "short phrase or clause of a sentence or line of poetry," from Greek komma "clause in a sentence," also ""stamp, coinage," literally "piece which is cut off," from koptein "to strike, smite, cut off; disable, tire out," which is perhaps from PIE root *kop- "to beat, strike, smite" (see hatchet (n.)), or perhaps Pre-Greek.
Like colon (n.1) and period it was originally a Greek rhetorical term for a part of a sentence, and like them it has been transferred to the punctuation mark that identifies it. In reading aloud the punctuation mark is used to admit small interruptions in continuity of speech for the sake of clarity, but its purpose is to indicate grammatical structure.
mid-14c., "table especially adapted for convenience in reading or writing," from Medieval Latin desca "table to write on" (mid-13c.), ultimately from Latin discus "quoit, platter, dish," from Greek diskos (see disk (n.)).
The Medieval Latin word is perhaps via Italian desco. Used figuratively of office or clerical work since 1797. Meaning "a department responsible for a particular subject or operation at a large organization" is by 1918, probably earlier, though it is not always possible tell whether a literal desk is meant or not. Sense of "reception desk at a hotel, etc." is by 1963. Desk job, one that is done at a desk as opposed to at a work-bench or in the field, is attested by 1900; desk-work "work done at a desk" is by 1826.
Laureat poete is first found in "Canterbury Tales" (in reference to Petrarch -- Fraunceys Petrak); it also was used in Middle English of Aesop and, by early 15c., of Chaucer. Inverted form poet laureate, in imitation of Latin word order, is from c. 1400 in English); the first official one probably was Ben Jonson (1638), though the first recorded one was Dryden (1668). Extended 1947 to Nobel prize winners. As a noun, 1520s, from the adjective or from a mistaken reading of poet laureate. Related: Laureateship (1732), laureation.
a quality in poetic writing that charges words with meaning based on context and prior usage, a term introduced, along with phanopoeia (visual image) and melopoeia (sound), by Ezra Pound from Greek logopoeia, from logos "word" (see Logos) + poiein "to make, create" (see poet).
[T]he good writer chooses his words for their 'meaning,' but that meaning is not a set, cut-off thing like the move of knight or pawn on a chess-board. It comes up with roots, with associations, with how and where the word is familiarly used, or where it has been used brilliantly or memorably.
You can hardly say 'incarnadine' without one or more of your auditors thinking of a particular line of verse. [Pound, "ABC of Reading," 1934]
"long, tedious, complicated story," by 1905, from Yiddish Megillah (as in a gantse Megillah "a whole megillah"), literally "roll, scroll," collective name of the five Old Testament books appointed to be read on certain feast days, from Hebrew meghillah, from galal "he rolled, unfolded." The slang use is in reference to the length of the text. The use of the word in English in reference to the holy books is from 1650s.
Jonas used to laugh. "What do I care for the Goyim," he said, but Isaac was different. He would talk thee a Megillah about Equality and Brotherhood,—one would have thought, he was reading something aloud out of the newspaper,—and what he meant was that the Yüd and the Goy were now alike. [Martha Wolfenstein, "A Renegade," Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1905]
a late-developing letter in English. Called ipsilon in German, upsilon in Greek, the English name is of obscure origin. The sound at the beginning of yard, yes, yield, etc. is from Old English words with initial g- as in got and y- as in yet, which were considered the same sound and often transcribed as Ȝ, known as yogh. The system was altered by French scribes, who brought over the continental use of -g- and from the early 1200s used -y- and sometimes -gh- to replace Ȝ. The French also tended to substitute -y- for -i-, especially before -u-, -n-, or -m-, or at the end of words, to avoid confusion in reading (see U), might also partly explain this tendency in Middle English. As short for YMCA, etc., by 1915.
early 15c., "book-learning," from Latin literatura/litteratura "learning, a writing, grammar," originally "writing formed with letters," from litera/littera "alphabetic letter" also "an epistle, writing, document; literature, great books; science, learning" (see letter (n.1)). In English originally "book learning" (in which sense it replaced Old English boccræft); the meaning "activity of a writer, the profession of a literary writer" is first attested 1779 in Johnson's "Lives of the English Poets;" that of "literary productions as a whole, body of writings from a period or people" is first recorded 1812.
Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. [Ezra Pound, "ABC of Reading"]
Meaning "the whole of the writing on a particular subject" is by 1860; sense of "printed matter generally" is from 1895. The Latin word also is the source of Spanish literatura, Italian letteratura, German Literatur.
"the theory that the mental powers of the individual consist of independent faculties, each of which has its seat in a different brain region, whose size is commensurate with the power of the faculty," 1815, literally "mental science," from phreno- "mind" (q.v.) + -logy "study of." Applied to the theory of mental faculties originated by Gall and Spurzheim that led to the 1840s mania for reading personality clues in the shape of a subject's skull and the "bumps" of the head. It was most popular from about 1810 to 1840. Related: Phrenological; phrenologist.
This theory, which originated at the close of the eighteenth century, assumes, moreover, as an essential part, the plasticity of the cranial envelop, by which the skull conforms externally, in the normal subject, to the shape and configuration of the brain within, so that its form and faculties may be determined, with sufficient exactness, from the skull itself, whether in the skeleton or in the living person. [Century Dictionary]
"wireless transmission of voice signals with radio waves," 1907, abstracted or shortened from earlier combinations such as radio-receiver (1903), radiophone "instrument for the production of sound by radiant energy" (1881), radio-telegraphy "means of sending telegraph messages by radio rather than by wire" (1898), from radio- as a combining form of Latin radius "beam" (see radius). Use for "radio receiver" is attested by 1913; sense of "sound broadcasting as a medium" also is from 1913.
That winter, however—the winter of 1921-22—[radio] came with a rush. Soon everybody was talking, not about wireless telephony, but about radio. A San Francisco paper described the discovery that millions were making: "There is radio music in the air, every night, everywhere. Anybody can hear it at home on a receiving set, which any boy can put up in an hour." In February President Harding had an outfit installed in his study, and the Dixmoor Golf Club announced that it would install a "telephone" to enable golfers to hear church services. [Frederick Lewis Allen, "Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's," 1931]
It is not a dream, but a probability that the radio will demolish blocs, cut the strings of red tape, actuate the voice "back home," dismantle politics and entrench the nation's executive in a position of power unlike that within the grasp of any executive in the world's history. [The Reading Eagle, Reading, Pa., U.S.A., March 16, 1924]
As late as July 1921 the New York Times was calling it wireless telephony, and wireless remained widespread until World War II, when military preference for radio established it as the word. As an adjective by 1912, "by radio transmission;" meaning "controlled by radio" is from 1974. Radio _______ as the proper name of a particular radio station or service, "radio station or service from _______" is by 1920. A radio shack (1946) was a small outbuilding housing radio equipment.