1590s, "conception, mental scheme," from Late Latin theoria (Jerome), from Greek theōria "contemplation, speculation; a looking at, viewing; a sight, show, spectacle, things looked at," from theōrein "to consider, speculate, look at," from theōros "spectator," from thea "a view" (see theater) + horan "to see," which is possibly from PIE root *wer- (3) "to perceive." Philosophy credits sense evolution in the Greek word to Pythagoras.
Earlier in this sense was theorical (n.), late 15c. Sense of "principles or methods of a science or art" (rather than its practice) is first recorded 1610s (as in music theory, which is the science of musical composition, apart from practice or performance). Sense of "an intelligible explanation based on observation and reasoning" is from 1630s.
"of or in the mode of James," 1875 in reference to William James (1842-1910), U.S. philosopher and exponent of pragmatism; 1905 in reference to his brother Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. expatriate novelist.
[T]he long sentences piling themselves up in elaborate phrase after phrase, the lightning incision, the pauses, the slightly shaking admonitory gesture with its ‘wu-await a little, wait a little, something will come’; blague and benignity and the weight of so many years’ careful, incessant labour of minute observation always there to enrich the talk. I had heard it but seldom, yet it is all unforgettable. […] No man who has not lived on both sides of the Atlantic can well appraise Henry James; his death marks the end of a period. [Ezra Pound, from “Henry James,” Little Review, August 1918]
late 12c., serven, "to render habitual obedience to, owe allegiance to," also "minister, give aid, give help," from Old French servir "to do duty toward, show devotion to; set table, serve at table; offer, provide with," from Latin servire "be a servant, be in service, be enslaved;" figuratively "be devoted; be governed by; comply with; conform; flatter," originally "be a slave," related to servus "slave," which is of uncertain origin.
Perhaps from Etruscan (compare Etruscan proper names Servi, Serve, Latinized as Servius), but de Vaan says it is from Proto-Italic *serwo- "shepherd," *serwā- "observation," from PIE *seruo- "guardian" (source also of Avestan haraiti "heeds, protects"):
Rix 1994a argues that the original meaning of *serwo- probably was 'guard, shepherd', which underwent a pejorative development to 'slave' in Italy between 700 and 450 BC. Servire would be the direct derivative of servus, hence 'be a slave'; servare would in his view be derived from an older noun *serwa- or *serwom 'observation, heedance'.
It is attested by c. 1200 in widespread senses: "to be in the service of, perform a service for; attend or wait upon, be personal servant to; be a slave; owe allegiance to; officiate at Mass or other religious rites;" from early 13c. as "set food at table;" mid-14c. as "to wait on (customers)."
From late 14c. as "treat (someone or something) in some fashion." To serve (someone) right "treat as he deserves" is recorded from 1580s. Sense of "be useful, be beneficial, be suitable for a purpose or function" is from early 14c.; that of "take the place or meet the needs of, be equal to the task" is from late 14c.; that of "suffice" is from mid-15c.
The meaning "render active military service" is from 1510s. The sporting sense is attested by 1580s, first in tennis. The legal sense of "present" (a writ, warrant, etc.), "give legal notice of" is from early 15c. To serve hand and foot "minister to attentively" is by c. 1300.
He no schuld neuer wond
To seruen him fro fot to hond
["Amis and Amiloun," c. 1330]
c. 1300, gessen "to infer from observation, perceive, find out; form an opinion, judge, decide, discern; evaluate, estimate the number, importance, etc. of," perhaps from Scandinavian (compare Middle Danish gitse, getze "to guess," Old Norse geta "guess, get"), or from or influenced by Middle Dutch gessen, Middle Low German gissen "to guess," all from Proto-Germanic *getan "to get" (see get (v.)).
The prehistoric sense evolution then would be from "get," to "take aim at," to "to estimate." Meaning "to hit upon the right answer" is from 1540s. The spelling with gu- is late 16c., sometimes attributed to Caxton and his early experience as a printer in Bruges. Related: Guessed; guessing.
Guessing game attested from 1650s. To keep (someone) guessing "keep him in a state of suspense" is from 1896, American English.
[T]he legitimate, English sense of this word is to conjecture; but with us, and especially in New England, it is constantly used in common conversation instead of to believe, to suppose, to think, to imagine, to fancy. [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]
c. 1300, in boke of Prouerbyys, the Old Testament work, from Old French proverbe (12c.) and directly from Latin proverbium "a common saying, old adage, maxim," literally "words put forward," from pro "forth" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward") + verbum "word" (see verb). Hence, in the Scriptural sense, "an enigmatical utterance; a mysterious or oracular saying that requires interpretation."
Used generally from c. 1300 in reference to native sayings, "short pithy sentence, often repeated colloquially, expressing a well-known truth or a common fact ascertained by experience or observation; a popular saying which briefly and forcibly expresses some practical precept; an adage; a wise saw: often set forth in the guise of metaphor and in the form of rime, and sometimes alliterative" [Century Dictionary].
By late 14c. as "byword, reproach, object of scorn." The Book of Proverbs in Old English was cwidboc, from cwide "speech, saying, proverb, homily," related to cwiddian "to talk, speak, say, discuss;" cwiddung "speech, saying, report."
Old English blind "destitute of sight," also "dark, enveloped in darkness, obscure; unintelligent, lacking mental perception," probably from Proto-Germanic *blindaz "blind" (source also of Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Dutch and German blind, Old Norse blindr, Gothic blinds "blind"), perhaps, via notion of "to make cloudy, deceive," from an extended Germanic form of the PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn."
The original sense would be not "sightless" but rather "confused," which perhaps underlies such phrases as blind alley (1580s; Chaucer's lanes blynde), which is older than the sense of "closed at one end" (1610s).
Meaning "not directed or controlled by reason" was in Old English. Meaning "without opening for admitting light or seeing through" is from c. 1600. In reference to acting without seeing or investigating first, by 1840; of aviators flying without instruments or without clear observation, from 1919.
The twilight, or rather the hour between the time when one can no longer see to read and the lighting of the candles, is commonly called blindman's holiday. [Grose, 1796]
1580s, "concerned with the acquisition of accurate and systematic knowledge of principles by observation and deduction," from French scientifique, from Medieval Latin scientificus "pertaining to science," from Latin scientia "knowledge" (see science) + -ficus "making, doing," from combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). The Latin word was used originally to translate Greek epistēmonikos "making knowledge" in Aristotle's "Ethics."
By 1670s as "guided by the principles of science," hence "learned, skillful;" by 1722 as "of, pertaining to, or used in science." By 1794 as "according to the rules of science."
Sciential (mid-15c., sciencial, "based on knowledge," from Latin scientialis) is the classical purists' choice for an adjective based on science. Scientic (1540s) and scient ("learned" late 15c.) also have been used. Scientistic (1878), however, is depreciative, "making pretentions to scientific method but not right."
The phrase scientific revolution for "rapid and widespread development of science" is attested from 1803; scientific method is by 1835; scientific notation is from 1961. Related: Scientifical; scientifically.
1580s, "a scheme or plan in the mind," from French desseign, desseing "purpose, project, design," from the verb in French (see design (v.)). Especially "an intention to act in some particular way," often to do something harmful or illegal (1704); compare designing. Meaning "adoption of means to an end" is from 1660s.
In art, "a drawing, especially an outline," 1630s. The artistic sense was taken into French as dessin from Italian disegno, from disegnare "to mark out," from Latin designare "mark out, devise, choose, designate, appoint" (which is also ultimately the source of the English verb), from de "out" (see de-) + signare "to mark," from signum "identifying mark, sign" (see sign (n.)).
[T]he artistic sense was taken into Fr. and gradually differentiated in spelling, so that in mod.F. dessein is 'purpose, plan', dessin 'design in art'. Eng. on the contrary uses design, conformed to the verb, in both senses. [OED]
General (non-scheming) meaning "a plan our outline" is from 1590s. Meaning "the practical application of artistic principles" is from 1630s. Sense of "artistic details that go to make up an edifice, artistic creation, or decorative work" is from 1640s.
Design is not the offspring of idle fancy; it is the studied result of accumulative observation and delightful habit. [Ruskin, "Modern Manufacture and Design," 1859]
1520s, "concise statement of a principle" (especially in reference to the "Aphorisms of Hippocrates"), from French aphorisme (corrected from Old French aufforisme, 14c.), from Late Latin aphorismus, from Greek aphorismos "definition; short, pithy sentence," from aphorizein "to mark off, divide," from apo "from" (see apo-) + horizein "to bound" (see horizon).
General sense of "short, pithy statement containing a truth of general import" (e.g. "life is short, and art is long") is from 1580s in English. Distinguished from an axiom, which is a statement of self-evident truth; an epigram is like an aphorism, but lacking in general import. Maxim and saying can be used as synonyms for aphorism, but maxims tend to be practical and sayings tend to be more commonplace and have an author's name attached.
[F]or aphorisms, except they should be ridiculous, cannot be made but of the pith and heart of sciences ; for discourse of illustration is cut off ; recitals of examples are cut off ; discourse of connexion and order is cut off ; descriptions of practice are cut off. So there remaineth nothing to fill the aphorisms but some good quantity of observation : and therefore no man can suffice, nor in reason will attempt, to write aphorisms, but he that is sound and grounded. [Francis Bacon, "The Advancement of Learning," 1605]
"consisting of or pertaining to facts, not fanciful or ideal," 1712, from the noun phrase matter of fact "reality as distinguished from what is fanciful or hypothetical, truth attested by direct observation or authentic testimony," which is originally a legal term (1570s, translating Latin res facti), "that which is fact or alleged fact; that portion of an inquiry concerned with the truth or falsehood of alleged facts, subject of discussion belonging to the realm of fact" (as distinguished from matter of inference, opinion, law, etc.). See matter (n.) + fact.
The meaning "prosaic, unimaginative, adhering to facts" is from 1787. Related: Matter-of-factly; matter-of-factness. German Tatsache is said to be a loan-translation of the English word.
In law, that which is fact or alleged as fact; in contradistinction to matter of law, which consists in the resulting relations, rights, and obligations which the law establishes in view of given facts. Thus, the questions whether a man executed a contract, and whether he was intoxicated at the time, relate to matters of fact; whether, if so, he is bound by the contract, and what the instrument means, are matters of law. [Century Dictionary]