[self-propelling projectile] 1610s, "projectile consisting of a cylindrical tube of pasteboard filled with flammable or explosive matter," from Italian rocchetto "a rocket," literally "a bobbin," diminutive of rocca "a distaff," so called because of cylindrical shape. The Italian word probably is from a Germanic source (compare Old High German rocko "distaff," Middle Dutch rokke, Old Norse rokkr), from Proto-Germanic *rukkon- (from PIE root *rug- "fabric, spun yarn").
Originally of fireworks rockets, the meaning "device propelled by a rocket engine" is recorded by 1919 (Goddard); rocket-ship in the space-travel sense is attested from February 1927 ("Popular Science"); earlier as a type of naval warship firing projectiles. Rocket science in the figurative sense of "difficult, complex process or topic" is attested by 1985; rocket scientist is from 1952.
That such a feat is considered within the range of possibility is evidenced by the activities of scientists in Europe as well as in America. Two of them, Prof. Herman Oberth and Dr. Franz Hoeff, of Vienna, are constructing a five-ton rocket ship in which they hope to reach the moon in two days. [Popular Science, February 1927]
early 15c., replacing forms from Old English fleogende "flying, winged;" present-participle adjective from fly (v.1). The meaning "attached so as to have freedom of movement" (1670s) is the source of the nautical use (flying jib, etc.). Meaning "designed for rapid movement" (especially in military terms, e.g. flying camp) is from 1660s; meaning "passing, hasty, temporary, rapidly constructed" is from 1763.
Flying fish is from 1510s; flying buttress "segment of an arch projecting from a solid mass and serving to stabilize a wall" is from 1660s. Flying Dutchman, ghost ship off the Cape of Good Hope, is attested since 1790 [John MacDonald "Travels in Various Parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa"]. Various accounts are given of how it came to be condemned to sail the sea, beating against head-winds, till the day of judgment. It is said that the ship sometimes hails vessels with the request that they will take letters home.
Flying colors (1706) probably is from the image of a naval vessel with the national flag bravely displayed. Flying machine is from 1736 as a theoretical device. Flying saucer first attested 1947, though the image of saucers for unidentified flying objects is from at least 1880s.
1808, from Italian improvisare "to sing or speak extempore," from Latin improviso "unforeseen; not studied or prepared beforehand," ablative of improvisus "not foreseen, unexpected," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + provisus "foreseen," also "provided," past participle of providere "foresee, provide" (see provide). Also partly from French improviser.
Regarded as a foreign word and generally printed in italics in English in early 19c. Other verbs were improvisate (1825), improvisatorize (1828), the latter from improvisator "one of a class of noted extemporaneous poets of Italy" (1765), the earliest word of the group to appear in English. Related: Improvised; improvising.
The metre generally adopted for these compositions was the ottava rima, although Doni affirms that the Florentines used to improvise* in all kinds of measure.
* This new-coined verb is introduced to avoid circumlocution, for this time only: therefore I hope your readers will excuse it. I conjugate it after the regular verb to revise — improvise — improvising — improvised. ["On the Improvvisatori of Italy," in The Athenaeum, August 1808]
Our travellers have introduced among us the substantive improvisatore unaltered from the Italian; but as the verb improvisare could not be received without alteration, we lack it altogether, though the usage of the noun requires that of the verb: I here endeavor to supply the deficience by the word improvisate. [Samuel Oliver Jr., "A General, Critical Grammar of the Inglish Language," London, 1825]
"of or pertaining to Portuguese navigator Fernão de Magalhães (c. 1470-1521), the first European to round the tip of South America, whose surname was Englished as Magellan.
The Magellanic Clouds, the two cloud-like patches of stars in the southern heavens, are attested under that name by 1680s. Magellan described them c. 1520, hence the name in Europe; but at least the larger of the two had been mentioned in 1515 by Peter Martyr d'Anghiera, chronicler of explorations in Central and South America.
In English they were earlier the Cape Clouds, because they became prominent as sailors rounding Africa neared the Cape of Good Hope; "but after Magellan became noted and fully described them they took and have retained his name." [Richard Hinckley Allen, "Star Names and Their Meanings," 1899]
Coompasinge abowte the poynt thereof, they myght see throughowte al the heaven about the same, certeyne shynynge whyte cloudes here and there amonge the starres, like unto theym whiche are scene in the tracte of heaven cauled Lactea via, that is the mylke whyte waye. [Richard Eden, translation of "Decades of the New World," 1555]
as a metaphysical concept, "belief that the world tends to become better or is capable of improvement;" in practical terms, "the improvement of society by regulated practical means;" by 1868, attributed to "George Eliot" (Mary Anne Evans), from Latin melior "better" (see meliorate) + -ism. Related: Meliorist (1835); melioristic.
In her general attitude towards life, George Eliot was neither optimist nor pessimist. She held to the middle term, which she invented for herself, of "meliorist." She was cheered by the hope and by the belief in gradual improvement of the mass; for in her view each individual must find the better part of happiness in helping another. ["Life and Letters"]
I don't know that I ever heard anybody use the word "meliorist" except myself. But I begin to think that there is no good invention or discovery that has not been made by more than one person. The only good reason for referring to the "source" would be, that you found it useful for the doctrine of meliorism to cite one unfashionable confessor of it in the face of the fashionable extremes. ["George Eliot," letter to James Sully, Jan. 19, 1877]
"chief, pivotal," early 14c., from Latin cardinalis "principal, chief, essential," a figurative use, literally "pertaining to a hinge," from cardo (genitive cardinis) "that on which something turns or depends; pole of the sky," originally "door hinge," which is of unknown origin. Related: Cardinally.
The cardinal numbers (1590s) are "one, two, three," etc. as opposed to ordinal numbers "first, second, third," etc.; they are so called because they are the principal numbers and the ordinals depend on them.
The cardinal points (1540s) are north, south, east, west. The cardinal sins (c. 1600) are too well known to require rehearsal. The cardinal virtues (c. 1300) were divided into natural (justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude) and theological (faith, hope, charity). The natural ones were the original classical ones, which were amended by Christians. But typically in Middle English only the first four were counted as the cardinal virtues:
Of þe uour uirtues cardinales spekeþ moche þe yealde philosofes. ["Ayenbite of Inwyt," c. 1340]
By analogy of this, and cardinal winds (late 14c.), cardinal signs (four zodiacal signs marking the equinoxes and the solstices, late 14c.), etc., the adjective in Middle English acquired an association with the number four.
mid-13c., faith, feith, fei, fai "faithfulness to a trust or promise; loyalty to a person; honesty, truthfulness," from Anglo-French and Old French feid, foi "faith, belief, trust, confidence; pledge" (11c.), from Latin fides "trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, belief," from root of fidere "to trust,"from PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade." For sense evolution, see belief. Accommodated to other English abstract nouns in -th (truth, health, etc.).
From early 14c. as "assent of the mind to the truth of a statement for which there is incomplete evidence," especially "belief in religious matters" (matched with hope and charity). Since mid-14c. in reference to the Christian church or religion; from late 14c. in reference to any religious persuasion.
And faith is neither the submission of the reason, nor is it the acceptance, simply and absolutely upon testimony, of what reason cannot reach. Faith is: the being able to cleave to a power of goodness appealing to our higher and real self, not to our lower and apparent self. [Matthew Arnold, "Literature & Dogma," 1873]
From late 14c. as "confidence in a person or thing with reference to truthfulness or reliability," also "fidelity of one spouse to another." Also in Middle English "a sworn oath," hence its frequent use in Middle English oaths and asseverations (par ma fay, mid-13c.; bi my fay, c. 1300).
late 14c., in the most basic sense, "to make fit for eating by the action of heat," but especially "to prepare in an appetizing way by various combinations of material and flavoring," from cook (n.).
Old English had gecocnian, cognate with Old High German cochon, German kochen, all verbs from nouns, but the Middle English word seems to be a fresh formation from the noun in English. The figurative sense of "to manipulate, falsify, alter, doctor" is from 1630s (phrase cook the books is attested by 1954). Related: Cooked, cooking. Phrase what's cooking? "what's up, what's going on" is attested by 1942. To cook with gas "do well, act or think correctly" is 1930s jive talk.
The expression "NOW YOU'RE COOKING WITH GAS" has bobbed up again — this time as a front page streamer on the Roper Ranger, and as the banner line in the current advertising series of the Nashville (Tenn.) Gas and Heating Company, cleverly tying gas cooking to local food products and restaurants. "Now you're cooking with gas" literally took the gas industry by the ears around December 1939 — Remember? — when it flashed forth in brilliant repartee from the radio programs of the Maxwell Coffee Hour, Jack Benny, Chase and Sanborn, Johnson Wax, Bob Hope and sundry others. [American Gas Association Monthly, vol. xxiii, 1941]
Otherworldliness is recorded from 1819. Phrase other world is from c. 1200 (oþre weorlde) as "afterlife, spirit-land, world to come;" c. 1300 as "world of idealism or fantasy, a state of existence different from normal," but otherworldliness seems to have been formed from worldliness. Leigh Hunt used it first in print, in "The Examiner" [Dec. 19, 1819], but a reported use of it by Coleridge, printed in Thomas Allsop's selections from Coleridge's letters and conversations (1836), which apparently cover the years 1818-22, was better-known thereafter, and the word is sometimes attributed to Coleridge:
As there is a worldliness or the too much of this life, so there is another-worldliness, or rather other worldliness, equally hateful and selfish with this worldliness.
Hunt, in his "Autobiography" (1850), writes:
I hope I am not giving fresh instance of a weakness which I suppose myself to have outgrown; much less appropriating an invention which does not belong to me; but an accomplished authoress one day (Mrs. Jameson), at the table of my friend Barry Cornwall, quoted the term "otherworldliness" from Coleridge. I said Coleridge was rich enough not to need the transference to him of other men's property; and that I felt so much honoured by the supposition in this instance, that I could not help claiming the word as my own. If Coleridge, indeed, used it before me, I can only say that I was not aware of it, and that my own reflections, very much accustomed to that side of speculation, would have suggested an identical thought.
1520s, "oblique or diagonal line," from French biais "a slant, a slope, an oblique," also figuratively, "an expedient, means" (13c., originally in Old French a past-participle adjective, "sideways, askance, against the grain"), a word of unknown origin. Probably it came to French from Old Provençal biais, which has cognates in Old Catalan and Sardinian, and is possibly via Vulgar Latin *(e)bigassius from Greek epikarsios "athwart, crosswise, at an angle," from epi "upon" (see epi-) + karsios "oblique" (from PIE *krs-yo-, suffixed form of root *sker- (1) "to cut").
In the old game of bowls, it was a technical term used in reference to balls made with a greater weight on one side (1560s), causing them to curve toward one side; hence the figurative use "a one-sided tendency of the mind" (1570s), and, at first especially in law, "undue propensity or prejudice."
The bias of education, the bias of class-relationships, the bias of nationality, the political bias, the theological bias—these, added to the constitutional sympathies and antipathies, have much more influence in determining beliefs on social questions than has the small amount of evidence collected. [Herbert Spencer, "The Study of Sociology," 1873]
For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride, lest his mind should seem to be occupied with things mean and transitory; things not commonly believed, out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections colour and infect the understanding. [Francis Bacon, "Novum Organum," 1620]