Old English þuma, from Proto-Germanic *thūman- (source also of Old Frisian thuma, Old Saxon, Old High German thumo, German Daumen, Dutch duim "thumb," Old Norse þumall "thumb of a glove"), literally "the stout or thick (finger)," from PIE *tum- "swell," from root *teue- "to swell." Unetymological spelling with -b (attested from late 13c.) is perhaps by influence of dumb; also compare limb (n.1).
In some of the IE languages there is a single word for "thumb," which is called the "big finger," like NE big toe. Many of the single words are of similar semantic origin, based on the notion of "stout, thick." [Buck]
Compare Greek megas daktylos "thumb," but Greek also had antikheir, literally "what is opposite the fingers." Italian pollice, French pouce are from Latin pollex, perhaps formed (on analogy of index) from pollere "to be strong."
Phrase rule of thumb attested by 1680s (the thumb as a rough measure of an inch is attested from c. 1500). To be under (someone's) thumb "be totally controlled by that person" is recorded from 1580s.
Thumbs up (1887) and thumbs down (1906) were said to be from expressions of approval or the opposite in ancient amphitheaters, especially gladiator shows, where the gesture decided whether a defeated combatant was spared or slain. But the Roman gesture was merely one of hiding the thumb in the hand or extending it. Perhaps the modern gesture is from the usual coachmen's way of greeting while the hands are occupied with the reins.
Middle English shirt, shirte, "garment for the upper body worn next to the skin," from Old English scyrte, from Proto-Germanic *skurtjon "a short garment" (source also of Old Norse skyrta, Swedish skjorta "skirt, kirtle;" Middle Dutch scorte, Dutch schort "apron;" Middle Low German schörte, Middle High German schurz, German Schurz "apron"), which is perhaps related to Old English scort, sceort "short," etc., from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut," on the notion of "a cut piece."
OED notes that "the meaning of the word in OE. is obscure, as the only instance of its occurrence is a gloss in which the meaning of the Latin word was probably not understood." Lithuanian šarkas "shirt," Old Church Slavonic sraka "tunic," Russian soročka, Finnish sarkki "shirt" perhaps are from Germanic.
Formerly of the chief under-garment worn by both men and women, but in modern use it has long been only that for men; in reference to women's tops, the word was reintroduced 1896.
Bloody shirt, a blood-stained shirt exposed as a symbol of some outrage, to arouse indignation or resentment, is attested from 1580s, usually figurative. Shirt since late 14c. often has been figurative of one's goods or possessions, hence give (someone) the shirt off one's back (1771); lose one's shirt "suffer total financial loss" (1935). To keep one's shirt on "be patient" (1904) is from the notion of (not) stripping down for a fight.
Old English wæt "moist, rainy, liquid," also as a noun. "moisture, liquid drink," from Proto-Germanic *wed- (source also of Old Frisian wet ). Also from cognate Old Norse vatr; all from PIE root *wed- (1) "water; wet." Of paint, ink, etc., "not yet dry" from 1510s. Opposed to dry in reference to the U.S. battles over prohibition from 1870. Wet blanket "person who has a dispiriting effect" is recorded from 1871, from use of blankets drenched in water to smother fires (the phrase is attested in this literal sense from 1660s).
Do we not know them, those wet blankets who come down on our pleasant little fires and extinguish them, with no more ruth than the rain feels when it pours on the encampment of the merry picnic party, or floods the tents of a flower show? ["Wet Blankets," in Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, February, 1871]
All wet "in the wrong" is recorded from 1923, American English; earlier simply wet "ineffectual," and perhaps ultimately from slang meaning "drunken" (c. 1700). Wet-nurse is from 1610s. The diver's wet-suit is from 1955. Wet dream is from 1851; in the same sense Middle English had ludificacioun "an erotic dream."
He knew som tyme a man of religion, þat gaff hym gretelie vnto chastitie bothe of his harte & of his body noghtwithstondyng he was tempid with grete ludificacions on þe nyght. ["Alphabet of Tales," c. 1450]
Middle English nose, from Old English nosu "the nose of the human head, the special organ of breathing and smelling," from Proto-Germanic *nuso- (source also of Old Norse nös, Old Frisian nose, Dutch neus, Old High German nasa, German Nase), from PIE root *nas- "nose."
Used of beaks or snouts of animals from mid-13c.; of any prominent or projecting part supposed to resemble a nose from late 14c. (nose cone in the space rocket sense is from 1949). Meaning "sense of smell" is from mid-14c. Meaning "odor, scent" is from 1894. In Middle English, to have one's spirit in one's nose was to "be impetuous or easily angered" (c. 1400).
Kiv, It could bee no other then his owne manne, that had thrust his nose so farre out of ioynte. ["Barnabe Riche His Farewell to Military Profession," 1581]
To pay through the nose "pay excessively" (1670s) seems to suggest bleeding. Many extended meanings are from the horse-racing sense of "length of a horse's nose," as a measure of distance between two finishers (1908). To turn up one's nose "show disdain, express scorn or contempt" is from 1818 (earlier hold up one's nose, 1570s); a similar notion is expressed in look down one's nose (1907). To say something is under (one's) nose "in plain view, directly in front of one" is from mid-15c. To be as plain as the nose on one's face "very easy to be seen or understood" is from 1590s.
[to repose; to cease from action] Middle English resten, from Old English ræstan, restan "take repose by lying down; lie in death or in the grave; cease from motion, work, or performance; be still or motionless; be undisturbed, be free from what disquiets; stand or lie as upon a support or basis," from Proto-Germanic *rastejanan (source also of Old Saxon restian, Old Frisian resta, Middle Dutch rasten, Dutch rusten, Old High German reston, German rasten, Swedish rasta, Danish raste "to rest"), a word of doubtful etymology (compare rest (n.1)).
Transitive senses "give repose to; lay or place, as on a support or basis" are from early 13c. Meaning "cease from, have intermission" is late 14c., also "rely on for support." In law, "voluntarily end the presentation of evidence to allow presentation of counter-evidence by the opposing party," by 1905. Related: Rested; resting.
To rest up "recover one's strength" is by 1895, American English. To rest in "remain confident or hopeful in" is by late 14c., biblical. Resting place "place safe from toil or danger" is from mid-14c.
Rest signifies primarily to cease from action or work, but naturally by extension to be refreshed by doing so, and further to be refreshed by sleeping. Repose does not necessarily imply previous work, but does imply quietness, and generally a reclining position, while we may rest in a standing position. [Century Dictionary]
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to sit."
It forms all or part of: assess; assiduous; assiento; assize; banshee; beset; cathedra; cathedral; chair; cosset; dissident; dodecahedron; Eisteddfod; ephedra; ephedrine; ersatz; icosahedron; inset; insidious; nest; niche; nick (n.) "notch, groove, slit;" nidicolous; nidification; nidus; obsess; octahedron; piezo-; piezoelectric; polyhedron; possess; preside; reside; saddle; sanhedrim; seance; seat; sedan; sedate; (adj.) "calm, quiet;" sedative; sedentary; sederunt; sediment; see (n.) "throne of a bishop, archbishop, or pope;" sessile; session; set (v.); sett; settle (n.); settle (v.); siege; sit; sitz-bath; sitzkrieg; size; soil (n.1) "earth, dirt;" Somerset; soot; subside; subsidy; supersede; surcease; tanist; tetrahedron; Upanishad.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit a-sadat "sat down," sidati "sits," nidah "resting place, nest;" Old Persian hadis "abode;" Greek ezesthai "to sit," hedra "seat, chair, face of a geometric solid;" Latin sedere "to sit; occupy an official seat, preside; sit still, remain; be fixed or settled," nidus "nest;" Old Irish suide "seat, sitting," net "nest;" Welsh sedd "seat," eistedd "sitting," nyth "nest;" Old Church Slavonic sežda, sedeti "to sit," sedlo "saddle," gnezdo "nest;" Lithuanian sėdėti "to sit;" Russian sad "garden," Lithuanian sodinti "to plant;" Gothic sitan, Old English sittan "to sit."
early 14c., originally a legal term meaning "formally laid down, decreed or legislated by authority" (opposed to natural), from Old French positif (13c.) and directly from Latin positivus "settled by agreement, positive" (opposed to naturalis "natural"), from positus, past participle of ponere "put, place" (see position (n.)).
The sense of "absolute" is from mid-15c. Meaning in philosophy of "dealing only with facts" is from 1590s. Sense broadened to "expressed without qualification" (1590s), then, of persons, "confident in opinion" (1660s). The meaning "possessing definite characters of its own" is by 1610s. The mathematical use for "greater than zero" is by 1704. Psychological sense of "concentrating on what is constructive and good" is recorded from 1916. Positive thinking is attested from 1953. The sense in electricity is from 1755.
There are probably no two bodies differing in nature which are not capable of exhibiting electrical phaenomena, either by contact, pressure, or friction ; but the first substances in which the property was observed, were vitreous and resinous bodies ; and hence the different states were called states of resinous and vitreous electricity ; and resinous bodies bear the same relation to flint glass, as silk. The terms, negative and positive electricity, have been likewise adopted, on the idea, that the phaenomena depend upon a peculiar subtile fluid, which becomes in excess in the vitreous, and deficient in the resinous bodies ; and which is conceived by its motion and transfer, to produce the electrical phaenomena. [Sir Humphry Davy, "Elements of Chemical Philosophy," London, 1812]
c. 1200, "a step, a stair," also "a position in a hierarchy," and "a stage of progress, a single movement toward an end," from Old French degré (12c.) "a step (of a stair), pace, degree (of relationship), academic degree; rank, status, position," which is said to be from Vulgar Latin *degradus "a step," from Latin de- "down" (see de-) + gradus "a step; a step climbed;" figuratively "a step toward something, a degree of something rising by stages" (from PIE root *ghredh- "to walk, go").
A word of wide use in Middle English; in 14c. it also meant "way, manner; condition, state, standing." Most extended senses in Middle English are from the notion of a hierarchy of steps. Genealogical sense of "a certain remove in the line of blood" is from mid-14c.; educational sense of "an academic rank conferred by diploma" is from late 14c. By degrees "gradually, by stages" is from late 14c.
Other transferred senses are from the notion of "one of a number of subdivisions of something extended in space or time," hence "intensive quality, measure, extent." The meaning "1/360th of a circle" is from late 14c. (The division of the circle into 360 degrees was known in Babylon and Egypt; the number is perhaps from the daily motion of the sun through the zodiac in the course of a year.) From 1540s as "a measure of heat;" the specific use as a unit of temperature on a thermometer is by 1727. In reference to crime, by 1670s as "one of certain distinctions of culpability;" in U.S. use by 1821 as "one of the phases of the same kind of crime."
Old English feohtan "to combat, contend with weapons, strive; attack; gain by fighting, win" (intransitive; class III strong verb; past tense feaht, past participle fohten), from Proto-Germanic *fe(u)hta (source also of Old High German fehtan, German fechten, Middle Dutch and Dutch vechten, Old Frisian fiuhta "to fight"), probably from PIE *pek- (2) "to comb, to pluck out" wool or hair (source also of Lithuanian pėšti"to pluck," Greek pekein "to comb, shear," pekos "fleece, wool;" Persian pashm "wool, down," Latin pectere "to comb," Sanskrit paksman- "eyebrows, hair"). Apparently the notion is "pulling roughly," or "to tear out one another's hair." But perhaps it is from the source of Latin pugnus "fist."
Spelling substitution of -gh- for a "hard H" sound was a Middle English scribal habit, especially before -t-. In some late Old English examples, the middle consonant was represented by a yogh. Among provincial early Modern English spellings, Wright lists faight, fate, fecht, feeght, feight, feit, feyght, feyt, feort, foight.
From c. 1200 as "offer resistance, struggle;" also "to quarrel, wrangle, create a disturbance." From late 14c. as "be in conflict." Transitive use from 1690s. To fight for "contest on behalf of" is from early 14c. To fight back "resist" is recorded from 1890. Well figt þat wel fligt ("he fights well that flies fast") was a Middle English proverb.
c. 1300, "first big meal of the day" (eaten between 9 a.m. and noon), from Old French disner "breakfast" (11c.), noun use of infinitive disner (Modern French dîner) "take the first meal of the day," from Gallo-Roman *desiunare "to break one's fast," from Vulgar Latin *disieiunare, from dis- "undo, do the opposite of" (see dis-) + Late Latin ieiunare, jejunare "to fast," from Latin ieiunus "fasting, hungry, not partaking of food" (see jejune).
Always used in English for the main meal of the day, but the time of that has gradually grown later.
In medieval and modern Europe the common practice, down to the middle of the eighteenth century, was to take this meal about midday, or in more primitive times even as early as 9 or 10 A.M. In France, under the old régime, the dinner-hour was at 2 or 3 in the afternoon; but when the Constituent Assembly moved to Paris, since it sat until 4 or 5 o'clock, the hour for dining was postponed. The custom of dining at 6 o'clock or later has since become common, except in the country, where early dinner is still the general practice. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
The change from midday to evening began with the fashionable classes. Compare dinette.
Dinner-time is attested from late 14c.; dinner-hour is from 1750. Dinner-table is from 1784; dinner-jacket from 1852; dinner-party by 1780. Childish reduplication din-din is attested from 1905.