Etymology
Advertisement
redhead (n.)

"person having red hair," mid-13c. (1256 as a surname), from red (adj.1) + head (n.). Red (adj.), of persons, "having red hair" is from late Old English. Both Cain and Judas formerly were reputed to have had red or reddish-yellow beards.

The Carrot pate be sure you hate, for she'l be true to no man,
But put her too 't and she will do 't, and oft turns very common:
She that is red upon the head will doubtless ne'r forsake it,
But wanton be, assuredly, and willingly will take it.
["The True Lover's Admonition," Roxburghe Ballads, c. 1680]
Traditional ideas about red-haired people are not complimentary. Physically, they are said to sweat easily, bleed copiously, have a strong foxy smell, and such bad breath that they can raise blisters on other people simply by breathing over them. Morally, they are expected to be 'bad children' who cause nothing but trouble; they will be hot-tempered, treacherous, and highly sexed. The medieval notion that Judas, Cain, and Mary Magdalene were red-heads arose from these beliefs, and helped to perpetuate them. ["Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore," 2000]

As an adjective, "having red hair," from 1660s. Red-headed is attested from 1660s; red-haired from c. 1500.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
idiom (n.)

1580s, "form of speech peculiar to a people or place;" meaning "phrase or expression peculiar to a language" is from 1620s; from French idiome (16c.) and directly from Late Latin idioma "a peculiarity in language," from Greek idioma "peculiarity, peculiar phraseology" (Fowler writes that "A manifestation of the peculiar" is "the closest possible translation of the Greek word"), from idioumai "to appropriate to oneself," from idios "personal, private," properly "particular to oneself."

This is from PIE *swed-yo-, suffixed form of root *s(w)e-, pronoun of the third person and reflexive (referring back to the subject of a sentence), also used in forms denoting the speaker's social group, "(we our-)selves" (source also of Sanskrit svah, Avestan hva-, Old Persian huva "one's own," khva-data "lord," literally "created from oneself;" Greek hos "he, she, it;" Latin suescere "to accustom, get accustomed," sodalis "companion;" Old Church Slavonic svoji "his, her, its," svojaku "relative, kinsman;" Gothic swes "one's own;" Old Norse sik "oneself;" German Sein; Old Irish fein "self, himself").

[G]rammar & idiom are independent categories; being applicable to the same material, they sometimes agree & sometimes disagree about particular specimens of it; the most can be said is that what is idiomatic is far more often grammatical than ungrammatical, but that is worth saying, because grammar & idiom are sometimes treated as incompatibles .... [Fowler]
Related entries & more 
snide (adj.)

1859, thieves' slang, "counterfeit, sham, bad, spurious," of unknown origin. Century Dictionary suggests it is a dialectal variant of snithe, itself a dialectal adjective meaning "sharp, cutting," used of the wind, from the Middle English verb snithen "to cut," from Old English snithan, which is cognate with German schneiden.

In earliest use it seems to have been most commonly applied to counterfeit coin. Farmer and Henley ("Slang and Its Analogues," 1903) has it as "bad, wretched, contemptible, or (army) dirty." Of persons, "characterized by low cunning and sharp practice," by 1874 (Hotten). Sense of "sneering" is attested by 1928, perhaps via the earlier noun sense of "hypocrisy, malicious gossip" (1902). Related: Snidely.

The tradition that a first-rate man is less a first-rate man if, encountering a snide detraction of himself that has no respect for the facts, he makes a critical riposte, strikes me as being just about as silly as anything I have run across during many years spent in this silly world. I speak, of course and obviously enough, not of snide criticism written by essentially snide men, but of the species of snide criticism that is every once in a while written by men who should know better. [George Jean Nathan, "Clinical Notes," The American Mercury, June 1928]
Related entries & more 
reck (v.)

Middle English recchen "to care, heed, have a mind, be concerned about" (later usually with of), from Old English reccan (2) "take care of, be interested in, care for; have regard to, take heed of; to care, heed; desire (to do something)" (strong verb, past tense rohte, past participle rought), from West Germanic *rokjan, from Proto-Germanic *rokja- (source also of Old Saxon rokjan, Middle Dutch roeken, Old Norse rækja "to care for," Old High German giruochan "to care for, have regard to," German geruhen "to deign," which is influenced by ruhen "to rest").

This is reconstructed to be from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule." The -k- sound is probably a northern influence from Norse. No known cognates outside Germanic. "From its earliest appearance in Eng., reck is almost exclusively employed in negative or interrogative clauses" [OED]. Related: Recked; recking. Also compare reckless.

And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the City, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, recking nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn. [J.R.R. Tolkien, "Return of the King," 1955]
Related entries & more 
Sam 

masc. proper name, typically a shortening of Samuel (q.v.).

Sam Browne in reference to a type of belt with shoulder strap is by 1915, from Sir Samuel James Browne (1824-1901), the British general who invented it. Sam Hill as an American English emphatic euphemism for "Hell!" (in exasperation) is by 1839. Sam Slick as the type of the resourceful Yankee (especially in the mind of the South) is from the character created 1835 by Nova Scotian judge Thomas Chandler Haliburton in a series of popular books.

I’ll tell you how I’d work it. I’d say, “Here’s a book they’ve namesaked arter me, Sam Slick the Clockmaker, but it tante mine, and I can’t altogether jist say rightly whose it is …. Its about the wittiest book I ever seed. Its nearly all sold off, but jist a few copies I’ve kept for my old customers. The price is just 5s. 6d. but I’ll let you have it for 5s. because you’ll not get another chance to have one.” Always ax a sixpence more than the price, and then bate it, and when Blue Nose hears that, he thinks he’s got a bargain, and bites directly. I never see one on ’em yet that didn’t fall right into the trap. [from "The Clockmaker: The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick of Slickville"]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
will (v.1)
Old English *willan, wyllan "to wish, desire; be willing; be used to; be about to" (past tense wolde), from Proto-Germanic *willjan (source also of Old Saxon willian, Old Norse vilja, Old Frisian willa, Dutch willen, Old High German wellan, German wollen, Gothic wiljan "to will, wish, desire," Gothic waljan "to choose").

The Germanic words are from PIE root *wel- (2) "to wish, will" (source also of Sanskrit vrnoti "chooses, prefers," varyah "to be chosen, eligible, excellent," varanam "choosing;" Avestan verenav- "to wish, will, choose;" Greek elpis "hope;" Latin volo, velle "to wish, will, desire;" Old Church Slavonic voljo, voliti "to will," veljo, veleti "to command;" Lithuanian velyti "to wish, favor," pa-velmi "I will," viliuos "I hope;" Welsh gwell "better").

Compare also Old English wel "well," literally "according to one's wish;" wela "well-being, riches." The use as a future auxiliary was already developing in Old English. The implication of intention or volition distinguishes it from shall, which expresses or implies obligation or necessity. Contracted forms, especially after pronouns, began to appear 16c., as in sheele for "she will." In early use often -ile to preserve pronunciation. The form with an apostrophe ('ll) is from 17c.
Related entries & more 
meticulous (adj.)

1530s, "fearful, timid," a sense now obsolete, from Latin meticulosus, metuculosus "fearful, timid," literally "full of fear," from metus "fear, dread, apprehension, anxiety," a word of unknown origin. The old word seems to have become archaic after c. 1700, fossilized in a passage of Sir Thomas Browne, though it turns up occasionally and obscurely as late as 1807.

It began to return to English in a sense of "fussy about details" by 1840s, from French méticuleux "timorously fussy" [Fowler, who rails against it, attributes this use in English to "literary critics"], the French descendant of the Latin word, but it took time for this to percolate. Meticulous appears 1852 in Halliwell's "Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words" (with the definition "timorous") and is marked "obsolete" in Craig's dictionary of the same year. It was listed by Richard Trench ["English Past and Present," 1868], who started the movement that became the OED,  among the words that had been "rejected and disallowed by the true linguistic instincts of the national mind."

It is marked archaic in the Imperial Dictionary (1883), which has only the sense "timid," but not so marked in Century Dictionary (1890), which defines it as "Timid; over-careful." It was much criticized, and somewhat defended, in writerly publications c. 1914-1924. Related: Meticulosity.

Related entries & more 
bring (v.)

Old English bringan "to bear, convey, take along in coming; bring forth, produce, present, offer" (past tense brohte, past participle broht), from Proto-Germanic *brangjanan (source also of Old Frisian branga "attest, declare, assure," Middle Dutch brenghen, Old High German bringan, German bringen, Gothic briggan). There are no exact cognates outside Germanic, but it appears to be from PIE *bhrengk- (source also of Welsh he-brwng "bring"), which, according to Watkins, isbased on root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children," but Boutkan writes, "We are probably dealing with a Germanic/Celtic substratum word."

The tendency to conjugate this as a strong verb on the model of sing, drink, etc., is ancient: Old English also had a rare strong past participle form, brungen, corresponding to modern colloquial brung.

To bring about "effect, accomplish" is from late 14c. To bring down is from c. 1300 as "cause to fall," 1530s as "humiliate," 1590s as "to reduce, lessen." To bring down the house figuratively (1754) is to elicit applause so thunderous it collapses the theater roof. To bring forth "produce," as young or fruit is from c. 1200. To bring up is from late 14c. as "to rear, nurture;" 1875 as "introduce to consideration." To bring up the rear "move onward at the rear" is by 1708.

Related entries & more 
askance (adv.)

1520s, "sideways, asquint, out of the corner of the eye," of obscure origin. OED has separate listings for askance and obsolete Middle English askance(s) and no indication of a connection, but Barnhart and others derive the newer word from the older one. The Middle English word, recorded early 14c. as ase quances and found later in Chaucer, meant "in such a way that; even as; as if;" and as an adverb "insincerely, deceptively." It has been analyzed as a compound of as and Old French quanses (pronounced "kanses") "how if," from Latin quam "how" + si "if."

The E[nglish] as is, accordingly, redundant, and merely added by way of partial explanation. The M.E. askances means "as if" in other passages, but here means, "as if it were," i.e. "possibly," "perhaps"; as said above. Sometimes the final s is dropped .... [Walter W. Skeat, glossary to Chaucer's "Man of Law's Tale," 1894]

Also see discussion in Leo Spitzer, "Anglo-French Etymologies," Philological Quarterly 24.23 (1945), and see OED entry for askance (adv.) for discussion of the mysterious ask- word cluster in English. Other guesses about the origin of askance include Old French a escone, from past participle of a word for "hidden;" Italian a scancio "obliquely, slantingly;" or that it is a cognate of askew.

Related entries & more 
Munchkin (n.)

1900, coined by U.S. author L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." He never explained how he got the word.

The word most like it is perhaps mutchkin, an old Scottish measure of capacity for liquids, which was used by Scott. (It comes from Middle Dutch mutseken, originally "a little cap," from mutse "cap," earlier almutse "amice, hood, headdress," from Latin amictus "mantle, cloak," noun use of past participle of amicire "to wrap, throw around," a compound from ambi- "around" (see ambi-) + iacere "to throw" (see jet (v.)).

But some Baum scholars see a possible inspiration in Münchner Kindl, the name of the emblem of the city of Munich (German München) or in German Männchen, literally "little man," which is cognate with mannequin.

While she stood looking at the strange and beautiful sights, she noticed coming toward her a group of the queerest people she had ever seen. They were not as big as the grown folk she had always been used to; but neither were they very small. In fact, they seemed about as tall as Dorothy, who was a well-grown child for her age, although they were, so far as looks go, many years older. ["The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"]
Related entries & more 

Page 79