1660s, "to utter a low, plaintive, murmuring sound," echoic of doves. Compare, in the same sense, Danish kurre, German girren; also Hindi kuku "the cooing of a dove," Persian huhu "a dove," and see cuckoo.
Meaning "to utter by cooing" is from 1798. Meaning "to converse affectionately, make love in murmuring endearments" is from 1816. Related: Cooing. The noun is recorded from 1729.
What are you doing now,
Oh Thomas Moore?
What are you doing now,
Oh Thomas Moore?
Sighing or suing now,
Rhyming or wooing now,
Billing or cooing now,
Which, Thomas Moore?
[Lord Byron, from "To Thomas Moore," 1816]
The modern system of salesmanship has become so much like persecution reduced to a science, that it is quite a luxury to be allowed the use of your own discretion, without being dragooned, by a shopkeeper's deputy, into looking at what you do not care to see, or buying what you would not have. A man in his sane mind, with the usual organs of speech, has a right to be treated as if he knows what he wants, and is able to ask for it. [The Literary World, Feb. 26, 1853]
1948, "salutatory gesture made by bringing the palms together and bowing," from Hindi, from Sanskrit namas "bowing" (from namas- "obeisance," from PIE root *nem- "assign, allot; take") + te, dative of tuam "you" (singular). Attested as a word of greeting by 1967.
"expose false or nonsensical claims or sentiments," 1923, from de- + bunk (n.2); apparently first used by U.S. novelist William Woodward (1874-1950), in his best-seller "Bunk;" the notion being "to take the bunk out of things." It got a boost from Harold U. Faulkner's "Colonial History Debunked" [Harper's Magazine, December 1925], which article itself quickly was debunked, and the word was in vogue in America in the mid-1920s. Related: Debunked; debunking.
Wets and Drys, Fundamentalists and Modernists, are busily engaged in debunking one another to the delight and edification of a public which divides its time between automobiling and listening-in. Is it art, or education, or religion that you prefer? You have only to get the right station and what you last heard about the matter will be cleverly debunked while you wait. [Carl Vernon Tower, "Genealogy 'Debunked," in Annual Reports of the Tower Genealogical Society, 1925]
It was, naturally, execrated in England.
The origin of to debunk is doubtless the same as that of American jargon in general — the inability of an ill-educated and unintelligent democracy to assimilate long words. Its intrusion in our own tongue is due partly to the odious novelty of the word itself, and partly to the prevailing fear that to write exact English nowadays is to be put down as a pedant and a prig. [letter to the editor, London Daily Telegraph, March 2, 1935, cited in Mencken, "The American Language"]
"unmarried woman," 1896, from bachelor with French ending -ette. It displaced earlier bachelor-girl (1888). The word appears to have been formed in English; Old French had bachelette "young girl" (15c.), also bachelle, bacelette, bachelote; Modern French is said to use bachelière only in the "student" sense.
Jessica. Thanks! Is Mr. Sparrow a bachelor?
Miss Cornelia. He is, and in all probability will remain one.
Jessica. I'm beginning to think there are pleasanter conditions in this world than being a bachelorette.
Miss Cornelia. Where did you ever pick up such a remarkable word? A bachelorette! What in the world is a bachelorette?
Jessica (smiling). You are.
["The Dummy," Alice Yates Grant, 1896]
"that is, namely, to wit," late 14c., a Latin word used in English, "you may know, you may be sure, it is certain," used in sense "that is to say, namely," a contraction of scire licit "it is permitted to know," from scire "to know" (see science); for second element see licit. It was used as was Old English hit is to witanne, literally "it is to wit" (see wit (v.)). Often abbreviated sc. or scil.
Its function is to introduce : (a) a more intelligible or definite substitute, sometimes the English, for an expression already used ... (b) a word &c. that was omitted in the original as unnecessary, but is thought to require specifying for the present audience .... [Fowler]
compound of bromine and another metal or radical, 1836, from bromine, the pungent, poisonous element, + -ide. Used medicinally as a sedative; figurative sense of "dull, conventional person or trite saying" popularized by U.S. humorist Frank Gelett Burgess in his book "Are You a Bromide?" (1906). Related: Bromidic.
Old English cnawan (class VII strong verb; past tense cneow, past participle cnawen), "perceive a thing to be identical with another," also "be able to distinguish" generally (tocnawan); "perceive or understand as a fact or truth" (opposed to believe); "know how (to do something)," from Proto-Germanic *knew- (source also of Old High German bi-chnaan, ir-chnaan "to know"), from PIE root *gno- "to know."
For pronunciation, see kn-. Once widespread in Germanic, the verb is now retained there only in English, where it has widespread application, covering meanings that require two or more verbs in other languages (such as German wissen, kennen, erkennen and in part können; French connaître "perceive, understand, recognize," savoir "have a knowledge of, know how;" Latin scire "to understand, perceive," cognoscere "get to know, recognize;" Old Church Slavonic znaja, vemi). The Anglo-Saxons also used two distinct words for this, the other being witan (see wit (v.)).
From c. 1200 as "to experience, live through." Meaning "to have sexual intercourse with," also found in other modern languages, is attested from c. 1200, from the Old Testament (Genesis iv.1). Attested from 1540s in colloquial phrases suggesting cunning or savvy (but often in the negative); to not know one's ass from one's elbow is from 1930.
As far as (one) knows "to the best of (one's) knowledge" is late 14c. Expression God knows is from c. 1400. To know too much (to be allowed to live, escape, etc.) is from 1872. To know better "to have learned from experience" is from 1704.
You know as a parenthetical filler is from 1712, but it has roots in 14c. You know as a euphemism for a thing or situation unmentionable is from 1867; you-know-who for a person it is thought best not to name (but implying the hearer knows) is from 1840.
As an expression of surprise, what do you know attested by 1914. Don't I know it in the opposite sense ("you need not tell me") is by 1841. You never know as a response to something unexpected is attested from 1924.
1853 in the literal sense (witch-hunting is from 1630s), from witch (n.) + hunt (n.). The extended sense is attested from 1919, American English, later re-popularized in reaction to Cold War anti-Communism.
Senator [Lee S.] Overman. What do you mean by witch hunt?
Mr. [Raymond] Robins. I mean this, Senator. You are familiar with the old witch-hunt attitude, that when people get frightened at things and see bogies, then they get out witch proclamations, and mob action and all kinds of hysteria takes place. ["Bolshevik Propaganda," U.S. Senate subcommittee hearings, 1919]
1830, "a decisive blow" (also, figuratively "a conclusive argument"), fanciful formation from sock (v.1) "hit hard," perhaps via a comical mangling of doxology, on a notion of "finality." The meaning "something exceptional" is attested from 1838.
Sockdologizing likely was nearly the last word President Abraham Lincoln heard. During the performance of Tom Taylor's "Our American Cousin," assassin John Wilkes Booth (who knew the play well) waited for the laugh-line:
Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal—you sockdologizing old man-trap.
Amid the noise as the audience responded, Booth fired the fatal shot.