In plural, the Greek word could mean "one's own countrymen." In old English law, one who has been without reasoning or understanding from birth, as distinguished from a lunatic, who became that way. Idiot box "television set" is from 1959; idiot light "dashboard warning signal" is attested from 1961. Idiot savant attested by 1870.
1620s, "action, state, or condition of touching," from Latin contactus "a touching" (especially "a touching of something unclean, contamination"), from past participle of contingere "to touch, seize," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + tangere "to touch," from PIE root *tag- "to touch, handle."
The figurative sense of "a connection, communication" is attested from 1818. The meaning "a person who can be called upon for assistance" is attested by 1931. As a call to the person about to spin an aircraft propeller to signal that the ignition is switched on, contact was in use by 1913.
To make contact (1860) originally was in reference to electrical circuits. Contact lens " thin artificial lens placed directly on the surface of the eye to correct visual defects" is first recorded 1888, in a translation of an article published in Zurich in 1887 by A. Eugen Fick; contacts for "contact lenses" is from 1957. Contact sport, for one involving bodily contact, is attested from 1922.
early 15c., "sundial, instrument for indicating the hour of the day by means of a shadow thrown upon a graduated surface," earlier "dial of a compass" (mid-14c.), from Old French dyal, apparently from Medieval Latin dialis "daily," from Latin dies "day," from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine." The word perhaps was abstracted from a phrase such as Medieval Latin rota dialis "daily wheel."
It evolved to mean any round plate or face over which a pointer moves to indicate something about the machinery to which it is attached. Sense of "face of a clock (or later a watch), upon which hours and minutes are marked and over which the hands move" is from mid-15c.
Telephone sense "circular plate marked with numbers and letters which can be rotated to establish connection" is from 1879, which led to dial tone (1921), "the signal to begin dialing." Dial-plate is attested from 1680s.
"drawing upon a plane surface representing a part or whole of the earth's surface or the heavens, with the various points drawn in proportion and in corresponding positions," 1520s, a shortening of Middle English mapemounde "map of the world" (late 14c.), and in part from French mappe, shortening of Old French mapemonde. Both the fuller English and French words are from Medieval Latin mappa mundi "map of the world."
The first element is from Latin mappa "napkin, cloth" (on which maps were drawn), "tablecloth, signal-cloth, flag," said by Quintilian to be of Punic (Semitic) origin (compare Talmudic Hebrew mappa, contraction of Mishnaic menaphah "a fluttering banner, streaming cloth"). The second element is Latin mundi "of the world," from mundus "universe, world" (see mundane).
Commonly used 17c. in a figurative sense of "epitome; detailed representation of anything." To put (something) on the map "bring it to wide attention" is from 1913.
c. 1300 (mid 13c. in surnames), porte, "a gate, an entrance to a place, a portal; the gate of a town or fortress," also in names of specific gates, from Old French porte "gate, entrance," from Latin porta "a city gate, a gate; door, entrance," akin to portus "harbor," from PIE root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over." Old English also had occasional port in this sense, from Latin, but the Middle English word seems to be a new borrowing via French.
The meaning "porthole, an opening in the side of a ship" is attested from mid-14c.; in old warships, an embrasure in the side of the ship through which cannons are pointed. The medical sense of "place where something enters the body" is by 1908 probably short for portal. In computers, "place where signals enter or leave a data-transmission system," by 1979, from earlier use in electronics (1953) for "pair of terminals where a signal enters or leaves a network or device," which also probably is short for portal.
"a busy rumour" [Rowe], 1620s (earlier "a fancy," c. 1600), figurative use from buzz (v.). Literal sense of "a humming sound" is from 1640s. A "buzz" was the characteristic sound of an airplane in early 20c.; hence verbal sense "to fly swiftly," by 1928; by 1940 especially in military use, "to fly low over a surface as a warning signal" (for example that target practice is about to begin):
The patrol aircraft shall employ the method of warning known as "buzzing" which consists of low flight by the airplane and repeated opening and closing of the throttle. [1941 Supplement to the Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America," Chap. II, Corps of Engineers, War Department, p. 3434, etc. ]
Meaning "pleasant sense of intoxication" first recorded 1935. The children's game of counting off with 7 or multiples of it replaced by buzz is attested from 1864 and is mentioned in "Little Women" (1868). To give (someone) a buzz (by 1922) is from the buzz that announced a call on old telephone systems (1913). Buzz bomb "V1 rocket" is from 1944.
The motto is often translated as "He (God) is favorable to our undertakings," but this is not the only possible translation. Thomson wrote: "The pyramid signifies Strength and Duration: The Eye over it & Motto allude to the many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause." The original design (by William Barton) showed the pyramid and the motto Deo Favente Perennis "God favoring through the years."
The Latin elements are the perfective of annuere "indicate approval, agree to, grant," literally "nod to (as a sign)" (from assimilated form of ad "to;" see ad-, + nuere "to nod;" see numinous) + perfect passive of coeptus, past participle of coepere "to begin, commence."
Old English eall "every, entire, the whole quantity of" (adj.), "fully, wholly, entirely" (adv.), from Proto-Germanic *alnaz (source also of Old Frisian, Old High German al; German all, alle; Old Norse allr; Gothic alls), with no certain connection outside Germanic. As a noun, in Old English, "all that is, everything."
Combinations with all meaning "wholly, without limit" were common in Old English (such as eall-halig "all-holy," eall-mihtig "all-mighty") and the method continued to form new compound words throughout the history of English. Middle English had al-wher "wherever; whenever" (early 14c.); al-soon "as soon as possible," al-what (c. 1300) "all sorts of things, whatever."
Of the common modern phrases with it, at all "in any way" is from mid-14c., and all "and everything (else)" is from 1530s, all but "everything short of" is from 1590s. First record of all out "to one's full powers" is 1880. All clear as a signal of "no danger" is recorded from 1902. All right, indicative of assent or approval, is attested by 1837; the meaning "satisfactory, acceptable" is by 1939, from the notion of "turning out well."
The use of a, a' as an abbreviation of all (as in Burns' "A Man's a Man for A' that") is a modern Scottishism but has history in English to 13c.
The American folk custom of wearing or displaying a yellow ribbon to signify solidarity with loved ones or fellow citizens at war originated during the U.S. embassy hostage crisis in Iran in 1979. It does not have a connection to the American Civil War, beyond the use of the old British folk song "Round Her Neck She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" in the John Wayne movie of the same name, with a Civil War setting, released in 1949.
The story of a ribbon tied to a tree as a signal to a convict returning home that his loved ones have forgiven him is attested from 1959, but the ribbon in that case was white.
The ribbon color seems to have changed to yellow first in a version retold by newspaper columnist Pete Hamill in 1971. The story was dramatized in June 1972 on ABC-TV (James Earl Jones played the ex-con). Later that year, Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown copyrighted the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," which became a pop hit in early 1973 and sparked a lawsuit by Hamill, later dropped.
In 1975, the wife of a Watergate conspirator put out yellow ribbons when her husband was released from jail, and news coverage of that was noted and remembered by Penne Laingen, whose husband was U.S. ambassador to Iran in 1979 and one of the Iran hostages taken in the embassy on Nov. 4. Her yellow ribbon in his honor was written up in the Dec. 10, 1979, Washington Post.
When the hostage families organized as the Family Liaison Action Group (FLAG), they took the yellow ribbon as their symbol. The ribbons revived in the 1991 Gulf War and again during the 2000s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
c. 1200, Sexun, Saxun, "member of a people or tribe formerly living in northern Germania who invaded and settled in Britain 5c.-6c.," from Late Latin Saxonem (nominative Saxo; also source of Old French saisoigne, French Saxon, Spanish Sajon, Italian Sassone), usually found in plural Saxones, probably from a West Germanic tribal name (represented by Old English Seaxe, Old High German Sahsun, German Sachse "Saxon").
This is traditionally regarded as meaning "warrior with knives" (compare Middle English sax, Old English seax, Old Frisian, Old Norse sax "knife, short sword, dagger," Old High German Saxnot, name of a war-god), from Proto-Germanic *sahsa- "knife," from PIE root *sek- "to cut." But Watkins considers this doubtful.
The word figures in the oft-told tale, related by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who got it from Nennius, of the treacherous slaughter by the Anglo-Saxons of their British hosts:
Accordingly they all met at the time and place appointed, and began to treat of peace; and when a fit opportunity offered for executing his villany, Hengist cried out, "Nemet oure Saxas," and the same instant seized Vortigern, and held him by his cloak. The Saxons, upon the signal given, drew their daggers, and falling upon the princes, who little suspected any such design, assassinated them to the number of four hundred and sixty barons and consuls ....
The OED editors helpfully point out that the murderous shout in correct Old English (with an uninflected plural) would be nimað eowre seax. For other Germanic national names that may have derived from characteristic tribal weapons, see Frank, Lombard. Celtic languages used their form of the word to mean "an Englishman, one of the English race" or English-speaking person in Celtic lands (for example Welsh Sais, plural Seison "an Englishman;" Seisoneg "English;" compare Sassenach).
As an adjective from late 14c. (earlier was Saxish, c. 1200); in reference to the later German state of Saxony (German Sachsen, French Saxe) in central Germany it is attested by mid-14c. Bede distinguished the Anglo-Saxons, who conquered much of southern Britain, from the Ealdesaxe "Old Saxons," who stayed in Germany.