"loud, disorderly, confusing noise," 1560s, probably imitative. Klein and Century Dictionary compare Gaelic racaid "noise, disturbance," but OED says this "is no doubt from Eng."
Meaning "dishonest activity" (1785) is perhaps an extended sense, from the notion of "something going on" or "noise or disturbance made to distract a pick-pocket's victim." Or it might be from racquet, via the notion of "a game," or from or reinforced by rack-rent "extortionate rent." There also was a verb racket "carry on eager or energetic action" (1753), and the gangster sense might be via the notion of "exciting and unusual." Weakened sense of "way of life, one's line of business" is by 1891.
late 15c., from French esclicier, from Old French escliz (see slice (n.)). Golfing sense is from 1890. Related: Sliced; slicing. Sliced bread is attested from 1929 and was touted in advertisements; greatest thing since ... first attested 1969.
With the advent of ready sliced bread the bread board, the bread knife and the slicing machine pass out of the picture. Sliced bread is a radical departure in the baking industry and although the Weber Baking Company will continue to supply the trade with unsliced loaves, the company anticipates an unusual run on the ready sliced loaf. [Western Hospital Review, vol. xiv, 1929]
No matter how thick or how thin you slice it it's still baloney. [Carl Sandburg, "The People, Yes," 1936]
city in Iowa, U.S., named for French Rivière des Moines, the river that flows past it, which traditionally is derived from French des moines "of the monks," in reference to missionaries, but this probably is a fur trappers' folk-etymologizing of a name of the native people who lived there.
The place appears in a 1673 text as Moinguena, and historians believe this represents Miami-Illinois mooyiinkweena, literally "shitface," from mooy "excrement" + iinkwee "face;" a name given by the Peoria tribe (whose name has itself become a sort of insult) to their western neighbors. It is not unusual for Native American peoples to have had hostile or derogatory names for others, but this seems an extreme case.
There has been considerable misconception as to the purpose of the fishnet hose imported by the ECONOMIST and illustrated on page 177. The newspaper representatives who viewed it at the ECONOMIST'S fashion exhibition used it as a pretext for many humorous articles and conveyed the impression that it was to be worn next the skin. The purpose is to use it over white or colored hose, to produce an unusual effect. Every store should have one or more pairs for exhibition purposes, if for no other reason. [Dry Goods Economist, June 22, 1912]
1610s, "discussion, debate" (a sense now obsolete), from Late Latin dissertationem (nominative dissertatio) "discourse," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin dissertare "debate, argue, examine, harangue," frequentative of disserere "discuss, examine," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + serere "to join together, put in a row, arrange (words)," from PIE root *ser- (2) "to line up."
Sense of "formal, written treatise" is from 1650s. Meaning "research paper required as a final project for a Ph.D or other doctoral degree" is attested by 1877 in reference to continental universities; it was in use in the U.S. by 1890. Related: Dissertational. There is no regular verb to go with it: Dissert (1620s, from French disserter, from Latin dissertare) is obsolete, and dissertate (1766) is marked "Unusual" in OED.
"Of somewhat doubtful etymology" [OED]. Liberman calls it "one of many imitative verbs beginning with fl- and denoting unsteady or light, repeated movement" (for example flicker, flutter). If it is related to flat the notion could be either "caress with the flat of the hand, stroke, pet," or "throw oneself flat on the ground" (in fawning adoration). The -er ending is unusual for an English verb from French; perhaps it is by influence of shimmer, flicker, etc., or from flattery.
Meaning "give a pleasing but false impression to" is from late 14c. Sense of "show (something) to best advantage" is from 1580s, originally of portraits. Related: Flattered; flattering.
Old English feawe (plural; contracted to fea) "not many, a small number; seldom, even a little," from Proto-Germanic *fawaz (source also of Old Saxon fa, Old Frisian fe, Old High German fao, Old Norse far, Danish faa), from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little."
Always plural in Old English, according to OED "on the analogy of the adverbial fela," meaning "many." Phrase few and far between attested from 1660s. Unusual ironic use in quite a few "many" (1854), earlier a good few (1803).
There is likewise another dialectical use of the word few among them [i.e. "the Northern Counties"], seemingly tending to its total overthrow; for they are bold enough to say—"a good few," meaning a good many. [Samuel Pegge, "Anecdotes of the English Language," London, 1803]
Among words for this concept, ugly is unusual in being formed from a root for "fear, dread." More common is a compound meaning "ill-shaped" (such as Greek dyseides, Latin deformis, Irish dochrud, Sanskrit ku-rupa). Another Germanic group has a root sense of "hate, sorrow" (see loath). Ugly duckling (1877) is from the story by Hans Christian Andersen, first translated from Danish to English 1846. Ugly American "U.S. citizen who behaves offensively abroad" is first recorded 1958 as a book title.
1560s, "sudden and apparently causeless turn of mind," of unknown origin. Perhaps it is from a dialectal survival of a word related to Middle English friken "to move nimbly or briskly," from Old English frician "to dance" [OED, Barnhart]. There is a freking attested in mid-15c., apparently meaning "capricious behavior, whims." Or perhaps from Middle English frek "eager, zealous, bold, brave, fierce" (see freak (n.2)).
The sense of "capricious notion" (1560s) and that of "unusual thing, fancy" (1784) preceded that of "abnormally developed individual or production" (first attested in freak of nature, 1839, which later was popular in variety show advertisements for bearded ladies, albinos, etc.; compare Latin lusus naturæ, which was used in English from 1660s). As "drug user" (usually appended to the name of the drug) it attested by 1945. The sense in health freak, ecology freak, etc. is attested from 1908 (originally Kodak freak "a camera buff"). Freak show is attested from 1887.
"single as regards number, class, or kind," Middle English onli, from Old English ænlic, anlic "only, unique, solitary," literally "one-like," from an "one" (see one) + -lic "-like" (see -ly (1)). Similar formation in Old Frisian einlik, Dutch eenlijk, Old High German einlih, Danish einlig. It preserves the old pronunciation of one. Related: Onliness.
Its use as an adverb ("alone, no other or others than; in but one manner; for but one purpose") and conjunction ("but, except") developed in Middle English. Distinction of only and alone (now usually in reference to emotional states) is unusual; in many languages the same word serves for both. German also has a distinction in allein/einzig. Phrase only-begotten (mid-15c.) is biblical, translating Latin unigenitus, Greek monogenes; the Old English word was ancenned. Only child is attested by 1700.