From c. 1200 of material things, "not stiff, not coarse, fine; yielding to weight." From late 14c. of wind, rain, etc. Of sounds, "quiet, not loud," from early 13c. Of words, "mild, restrained; courteous" mid-14c. From late 14c. as "indulgent," also "physically feeble; easily overcome, lacking manly courage." From 1755 of water ("relatively free from mineral salts"), from 1789 of coal. Meaning "foolish, simple, silly" is attested from 1620s; earlier "easily moved or swayed; soft-hearted, sympathetic; docile" (early 13c.). In reference to drinks, "non-alcoholic" from 1880. As an adverb, Old English softe "gently;" late 13c. as "quietly." As an interjection from 1540s.
Soft landing is from 1958 and the U.S. space program. Adjective soft-core (in reference to pornography) is from 1966 (see hardcore). Soft rock as a music style is attested from 1969. Soft sell is from 1955. Soft-shoe as a dancing style is attested from 1927. Soft-boiled is from 1757 of eggs; of persons, ideas, etc., 1930 (compare half-baked). Soft-focus (adj.) of camera shots is from 1917. The softer sex "women collectively" is from 1640s.
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."
mid-14c., "make clear (an obscure subject) in the mind, explain, elucidate;" late 14c., "make clean, cleanse, purify; clarify (a liquid), remove what clouds or diminishes brightness or transparency;" also "prove innocent, vindicate;" of the weather, sea, sky, clouds, etc., "clear up, become fair or calm;" from clear (adj.). Related: Cleared; clearing.
Intransitive sense of "become free from murkiness" is from 1580s. Meaning "to free from obstructions" is from 1520s; that of "to free from entanglement" is from 1590s; that of "pass (an obstacle) without entanglement or collision" is from 1630s. Sense of "to remove (something) out of the way" is from 1670s; that of "to clear land of trees and underbrush" is from 1690s. Meaning "to leap clear over" is first attested 1791. Meaning "to gain (a sum of money) in clear profit" is from 1719. Meaning "get approval for (a proposal, etc.) from authority" is from 1944; meaning "establish as suitable for national security work" is from 1948.
To clear (one's) throat is from 1881; earlier clear (one's) voice (1701). To clear out "depart, leave" (1825), perhaps is from the notion of ships satisfying customs, harbor regulations, etc., then setting sail. To get clear of is from 1590s. To clear up is from 1620s of weather, 1690s as "make clear to the mind." Clear the deck (1802) is from sailing ships. Clear the air in the figurative sense is from late 14c. To clear the coast (1520s) was to make it suitable for landing.
mid-13c., musike, "a pleasing succession of sounds or combinations of sounds; the science of combining sounds in rhythmic, melodic, and (later) harmonic order," from Old French musique (12c.) and directly from Latin musica "the art of music," also including poetry (also source of Spanish musica, Italian musica, Old High German mosica, German Musik, Dutch muziek, Danish musik), from Greek mousikē (technē) "(art) of the Muses," from fem. of mousikos "pertaining to the Muses; musical; educated," from Mousa "Muse" (see muse (n.)).
The modern spelling is from 1630s. In classical Greece, any art in which the Muses presided, but especially music and lyric poetry.
Music is the sound of the universal laws promulgated. [Thoreau]
The use of letters to denote music pitch probably is at least as old as ancient Greece, as their numbering system was ill-suited to the job. Natural scales begin at C (not A) because in ancient times the minor mode was more often used than the major one, and the natural minor scale begins at A.
Meaning "the written or printed score of a composition" is from 1650s.
Music box is from 1773, originally "barrel organ," by 1845 in reference to the wind-up mechanical device; music hall is by 1842 as "interior space used for musical performances," especially "public hall licensed for musical entertainment" (1857). To face the music "accept the consequences" is from 1850; the exact image is uncertain, one theory ties it to stage performers, another to cavalry horses having to be taught to stay calm while the regimental band plays. To make (beautiful) music with someone "have sexual intercourse" is from 1967.
late 12c., "olive oil," from Anglo-French and Old North French olie, from Old French oile, uile "oil" (12c., Modern French huile), from Latin oleum "oil, olive oil" (source of Spanish, Italian olio), from Greek elaion "olive tree," from elaia (see olive).
Nearly all the European languages' words for "oil" (Croatian ulje, Polish olej, Hungarian olaj, Albanian uli, Lithuanian alejus, etc.) are from the Greek word; the Germanic (except Gothic) and Celtic one coming from Greek via Latin: Old English æle, Dutch olie, German Öl, Welsh olew, Gaelic uill, etc.
In English it meant "olive oil" exclusively till c. 1300, when the word began to be extended to any fatty, greasy liquid substance (usually flammable and insoluble in water). Often especially "oil as burned in a lamp to afford light" (as in midnight oil, symbolizing late work). Use for "petroleum" is recorded from 1520s but not common until 19c.
The artist's oils (1660s), short for oil-color (1530s), are paints made by grinding pigment in oil. Oil-painting is attested from 1782. The ocean-going oil-tanker is from 1900; oil-spill is from 1970. As a condiment, oil and vinegar is attested from 1620s. The figurative expression pour oil upon the waters "appease strife or disturbance" is by 1840, from an ancient trick of sailors.
Another historical illustration which involves monolayers, was when sailors poured oil on the sea in order to calm 'troubled waters' and so protect their ship. This worked by wave damping or, more precisely, by preventing small ripples from forming in the first place so that the wind could have no effect on them. [J. Lyklema, "Fundamentals of Interface and Colloid Science," Academic Press, 2000]
The phenomenon depends on what are called Marangoni effects; Benjamin Franklin experimented with it in 1765.