Etymology
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distance (v.)

1570s "place at a distance" (transitive); 1640s, "leave at a distance by superior speed" (intransitive), from distance (n.). Sense of "to make to appear distant" is from 1690s. Specific sense of "leave behind in a (horse) race" is from 1670s (see the noun). The meaning "to keep at a distance" is by 1786, marked as "? Obs." in OED, but that was before 2020. Related: Distanced; distancing.

Distancing as a verbal noun is from 1670s; social distancing was used in sociology by 1960s in reference both to physical space and status.

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balls (n.)

"testicles," early 14c., from plural of ball (n.1). See also ballocks. Meaning "courage, nerve" is from 1928. Balls to the wall, however, probably is from World War II Air Forces slang, from the ball that topped the aircraft throttle, thrust to the bulkhead of the cockpit to attain full speed.

Ball-busting "difficult" is recorded by 1944; ball-breaker "difficult job or problem" is by 1954. Ball-buster, disparaging for "dominant female, woman who destroys men's self-confidence" is from 1954; ball-breaker in this sense is by 1970 (of Bella Abzug).

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POTUS (n.)

wire service acronym for president of the United States (or President of the United States). It is a survival from the Phillips Code, created 1879 by U.S. journalist Walter P. Phillips to speed up (and save money on) Morse code transmissions but obsolete from c. 1940 with the widespread use of teletype machines. The AP still uses it in wire slugs and it is affected occasionally by those seeking to establish journalistic credibility. Other Phillips Code survivals include SCOTUS for "Supreme Court of the United States."

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warp (n.)
"threads running lengthwise in a fabric," Old English wearp, from Proto-Germanic *warpo- (source also of Middle Low German warp, Old High German warf "warp," Old Norse varp "cast of a net"), from PIE *werp- "to turn, bend" (see warp (v.)). The warp of fabric is that across which the woof is "thrown." Applied by 1947 in astrophysics to the "bending" of space-time, and popularized in noun phrase warp speed (for faster-than-light travel) by the 1960s U.S. TV series "Star Trek."
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merchant (n.)

"one engaged in the business of buying commercial commodities and selling them again for profit," early 13c., marchaunt (late 12c. as a surname), from Anglo-French marchaunt "merchant, shopkeeper" (Old French marcheant, Modern French marchand), from Vulgar Latin *mercatantem (nominative *mercatans) "a buyer," present participle of *mercatare, frequentative of Latin mercari "to trade, traffic, deal in" (see market (n.)). Meaning "fellow, chap" is from 1540s; with a specific qualifier, and suggesting someone who deals in it (such as speed merchant "one who enjoys fast driving," by 1914).

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sports (n.)

atheltic games and contests, 1590s, from sport (n.). Meaning "sports section of a newspaper" is 1913. As an adjective from 1897. Sports fan attested from 1921. Sports car attested by 1914; so called for its speed and power:

I have just returned from the south of France, passing through Lyons, where I visited the [Berliet] works with my car, and was shown the new model 25 h.p. "sports" car, and was so impressed with this that I immediately ordered one on my return to London. [letter in The Autocar, Jan. 7, 1914]
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seventy (adj., n.)

"seven times ten; the number which is one more than sixty-nine; a symbol representing this number;" Old English (hund)seofontig, from seofon (see seven) + -tig (see -ty (1)). Similar formation in Old Saxon sibuntig, Old Frisian soventich, Middle Dutch seventich, Old High German sibunzug, Old Norse sjautugr.

Seventy-eight (78) "gramophone record played at a speed of seventy-eight revolutions per minute," which was the standard until the introduction of long-play (see LP) in 1948; the use of seventy-eight to distinguish the old discs is by 1951.

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pick up (v.)

early 14c. as a verbal phrase, "lift and take with the fingers," from pick (v.) + up (adv.). From 1510s as "take or get casually, obtain or procure as opportunity offers." Meaning "take (a person found or overtaken) into a vehicle or vessel," is from 1690s, also, of persons, "make acquaintance or take along" (especially for sexual purposes). Intransitive meaning "improve gradually, reacquire vigor or strength" is by 1741. Sense of "tidy up" is from 1861; that of "arrest" is from 1871; meaning "gain speed" is from 1922; meaning "to pay" (a check, tab, etc.) is from 1945. Pick-me-up "stimulating alcoholic drink" is attested from 1867.

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quicken (v.)

c. 1300, quikenen, "come to life, receive life," also transitive, "give life to," also "return to life from the dead;" see quick (adj.) + -en (1). The earlier verb was simply quick (c. 1200, from late Old English gecwician, and compare Old Norse kvikna).

The sense of "hasten, accelerate, impart speed to" is from 1620s. The intransitive meaning "become faster or more active" is by 1805. Also, of a woman, "enter that state of pregnancy in which the child gives indications of life;" of a child, "begin to manifest signs of life in the womb" (usually about the 18th week of pregnancy); probably originally in reference to the child but reversed and also used of the mother. Related: Quickened; quickening.

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redbone (adj.)

by 1886 in American English in reference to a type of hound bred in the South, with a red or red and tan coat, used especially to hunt raccoons and fugitives. The name probably has some connection to the term Redbone as used in 19c. southern U.S. to denote a mulatto or mixed-race culture.

The Redbone is one of the old-time strains; confined exclusively to the Southern States. The "native" Birdsong, Georgia, Virginia, and Kentucky Hounds were undoubtedly the Redbone strain before the introduction of the various crosses previously mentioned. They were a slow, painstaking Hound, with superior nose and splendid mouth, without speed. [Gen. Roger D. Williams, "The American Foxhound," in "Dogs," New York: 1907]
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