common small European songbird, 1540s, a shortening of Robin Redbreast (mid-15c.), from masc. personal name Robin, also (in reference to the bird) in the diminutive form robinet. Redbreast alone for the bird is from early 15c., and the Robin might have been added for the alliteration. It ousted the native ruddock. In North America, the name was applied to the red-breasted thrush by 1703.
Robin's egg as a shade of somewhat greenish blue is attested from 1881; it refers to the North American species; the English robin's eggs are pinkish-white and freckled with purplish-red.
the earlier form of poulterer (q.v.). Poetic poulter's measure (1570s), a combination of lines of 12 and 14 syllables, is said to be so called for suggesting "the poulter's old practice of giving an extra egg with the second dozen." [Miller Williams, "Patterns of Poetry," 1986].
The commonest sort of verse which we vse now adayes (viz. the long verse of twelue and fourtene sillables) I know not certainly howe to name it, vnlesse I should say that it doth consist of Poulter's measure, which giueth xii. for one dozen and xiiij. for another. [George Gascoigne]
mid-15c., "bud, sprout;" 1640s, "rudiment of a new organism in an existing one," from French germe "germ (of egg); bud, seed, fruit; offering," from Latin germen (genitive germinis) "spring, offshoot; sprout, bud," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups.
The older sense is preserved in wheat germ and germ of an idea; sense of "seed of a disease" first recorded 1796 in English; that of "harmful micro-organism" dates from 1871. Germ warfare is recorded from 1919.
"an animal of the class Mammalia; an animal that suckles its young," 1826, Englished form of Modern Latin Mammalia (1773), coined 1758 by Linnaeus for that class of animals from neuter plural of Late Latin mammalis "of the breast," from Latin mamma "breast," which is cognate with mamma. With the exception of a few egg-laying species, all bear live young and have the mammary gland for the young to suck. All also are warm-blooded and breathe air. In Middle English, mammille was "a woman's breast" (early 15c.).
Old English hwit "whiteness, white food, white of an egg," from white (adj.). Also in late Old English "a highly luminous color devoid of chroma." Meaning "white part of the eyeball" is from c. 1400. Meaning "white man, person of a race distinguished by light complexion" is from 1670s; white man in this sense is from 1690s. White man's burden is from Kipling's 1899 poem:
Take up the White Man's burden—
The savage wars of peace—
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.
Middle English lappewinke (late 14c.), lapwyngis (early 15c.), folk etymology alteration of Old English hleapewince "lapwing," probably literally "leaper-winker," from hleapan "to leap" (see leap (v.)) + wince "totter, waver, move rapidly," related to wincian "to wink" (see wink (v.)).
Said to be so called from "the manner of its flight" [OED] "in reference to its irregular flapping manner of flight" [Barnhart], but the lapwing also flaps on the ground pretending to have a broken wing to lure egg-hunters away from its nest, which seems a more logical explanation. Its Greek name was polyplagktos "luring on deceitfully."
late 14c., "the young while in the womb or egg" (tending to mean vaguely the embryo in the later stage of development), from Latin fetus (often, incorrectly, foetus) "the bearing or hatching of young, a bringing forth, pregnancy, childbearing, offspring," from suffixed form of PIE root *dhe(i)- "to suck."
In Latin, fetus sometimes was transferred figuratively to the newborn creature itself, or used in a sense of "offspring, brood" (as in Horace's Germania quos horrida parturit Fetus), but this was not the usual meaning. It also was used of plants, in the sense of "fruit, produce, shoot," and figuratively as "growth, production." The spelling foetus is sometimes attempted as a learned Latinism, but it is unetymological (see oe).
[toothed cutting tool] Middle English saue, from Old English sagu, from Proto-Germanic *sago "a cutting tool" (source also of Old English seax "knife," Old Norse sög, Norwegian sag, Danish sav, Swedish såg, Middle Dutch saghe, Dutch zaag, Old High German saga, German Säge "saw"), from PIE root *sek- "to cut" (source also of Latin secare "to cut").
In reference to its use as a musical instrument, by 1905. Saw-grass, the long, toothed grass found in the Southern U.S., is attested by 1822. The saw-fly (1773), destructive to plants, is so called for the construction of the insect's egg-depositing organ.
Old English Easterdæg, from Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from Proto-Germanic *austron-, "dawn," also the name of a goddess of fertility and spring, perhaps originally of sunrise, whose feast was celebrated at the spring equinox, from *aust- "east, toward the sunrise" (compare east), from PIE root *aus- (1) "to shine," especially of the dawn.
Bede says Anglo-Saxon Christians adopted her name and many of the celebratory practices for their Mass of Christ's resurrection. Almost all neighboring languages use a variant of Latin Pascha to name this holiday (see paschal).
Easter egg is attested by 1825, earlier pace egg (1610s). Easter bunny is attested by 1904 in children's lessons; Easter rabbit is by 1888; the paganish customs of Easter seem to have grown popular c. 1900; before that they were limited to German immigrants.
If the children have no garden, they make nests in the wood-shed, barn, or house. They gather colored flowers for the rabbit to eat, that it may lay colored eggs. If there be a garden, the eggs are hidden singly in the green grass, box-wood, or elsewhere. On Easter Sunday morning they whistle for the rabbit, and the children imagine that they see him jump the fence. After church, on Easter Sunday morning, they hunt the eggs, and in the afternoon the boys go out in the meadows and crack eggs or play with them like marbles. Or sometimes children are invited to a neighbor's to hunt eggs. [Phebe Earle Gibbons, "Pennsylvania Dutch," Philadelphia, 1882]
sauce made from egg yolks and salad oil, beaten together with vinegar or lemon juice to the consistency of thickened cream and seasoned, 1815, from French sauce mayonnaise (1806), said by French sources to be corrupted from mahonnaise and to have been named in recognition of Mahon, seaport capital of island of Minorca, captured by France in 1756 after the defeat of the British defending fleet in the Seven Years' War; the sauce having been introduced either in commemoration of the victory, which was led by Armand de Vignerot du Plessis, duc de Richelieu (1696–1788), or because it was brought to France from there by him. But unless there is a gap in the record, the late date of appearance of the word make this seem doubtful. An inferior sort of Miracle Whip.