c. 1200, "at ease, having ease, free from bodily discomfort and anxiety," from Old French aisie "comfortable, at ease, rich, well-off" (Modern French aisé), past participle of aisier "to put at ease," from aise (see ease (n.)). Sense of "not difficult, requiring no great labor or effort" is from late 13c.; of conditions, "offering comfort, pleasant," early 14c. Of persons, "lenient, kind, calm, gentle," late 14c. Meaning "readily yielding, not difficult of persuasion" is from 1610s. The concept of "not difficult" was expressed in Old English and early Middle English by eaþe (adv.), ieþe (adj.), apparently common West Germanic (compare German öde "empty, desolate," but of disputed origin.
Easy Street is from 1890. Easy money attested by 1889; to take it easy "relax" is from 1804 (be easy in same sense recorded from 1746); easy does it recorded by 1835. Easy rider (1912) was African-American vernacular for "sexually satisfying lover." The easy listening radio format is from 1961, defined by William Safire (in 1986) as, "the music of the 60's played in the 80's with the style of the 40's." Related: Easier; easiest.
"travel on foot," c. 1200, a merger of two verbs, 1. Old English wealcan "to toss, roll, move round" (past tense weolc, past participle wealcen), and 2. wealcian "to roll up, curl," from Proto-Germanic *welk- (source also of Old Norse valka "to drag about," Danish valke "to full" (cloth), Middle Dutch walken "to knead, press, full" (cloth), Old High German walchan "to knead," German walken "to full"), perhaps ultimately from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve."
The shift in sense is perhaps from a colloquial use of the Old English word or via the sense of "to full cloth" (by treading on it), though this sense does not appear until after the change in meaning. In 13c. it is used of snakes and the passage of time, and in 15c. of wheeled carts. "Rarely is there so specific a word as NE walk, clearly distinguished from both go and run" [Buck]. Meaning "to go away" is recorded from mid-15c. Transitive meaning "to exercise a dog (or horse)" is from late 15c.; meaning "to escort (someone) in a walk" is from 1620s. Meaning "move (a heavy object) by turning and shoving it in a manner suggesting walking" is by 1890. To walk it off, of an injury, etc., is from 1741. Related: Walked; walking.
Replaced native slack, slothful, and idle as the usual word expressing the notion of averse to work. Lazy Susan is from 1917. Lazy-tongs is from 1785, "An instrument like a pair of tongs for old or very fat people, to take anything off the ground without stooping" [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue"]. In his 1788 edition, Grose has lazy man's load: "Lazy people frequently take up more than they can safely carry, to save the trouble of coming a second time."
Old English bitan "to pierce or cut with the teeth" (class I strong verb; past tense bat, past participle biten), from Proto-Germanic *beitanan (source also of Old Saxon bitan, Old Norse and Old Frisian bita "cut, pierce, penetrate," Middle Dutch biten, Dutch bijten, German beissen, Gothic beitan "to bite"), from PIE root *bheid- "to split," with derivatives in Germanic referring to biting.
To bite the bullet is said to be 1700s military slang, from old medical custom of having the patient bite a lead bullet during an operation to divert attention from pain and reduce screaming. Figurative use from 1891; the custom itself attested from 1840s. To bite (one's) tongue "refrain from speaking" is 1590s; to bite (one's) lip to repress signs of some emotion or reaction is from early 14c. To bite off more than one can chew (c. 1880) is U.S. slang, from plug tobacco.
To bite the dust "be thrown or struck down," hence "be vanquished, die, be slain, perish in battle" is from 1750, earlier bite the ground (1670s), lick the dust (late 14c.), which OED identifies as "a Hebraism," but Latin had the same image; compare Virgil's procubuit moriens et humum semel ore momordit.
"deep, circular vessel," from late Old English pott and Old French pot "pot, container, mortar" (also in erotic senses), both from a general Low Germanic (Old Frisian pott, Middle Dutch pot) and Romanic word from Vulgar Latin *pottus, which is of uncertain origin, said by Barnhart and OED to be unconnected to Late Latin potus "drinking cup." Similar Celtic words are said to be borrowed from English and French.
Specifically as a drinking vessel from Middle English. Slang meaning "large sum of money staked on a bet" is attested from 1823; that of "aggregate stakes in a card game" is from 1847, American English.
Pot roast "meat (generally beef) cooked in a pot with little water and allowed to become brown, as if roasted," is from 1881. Pot-plant is by 1816 as "plant grown in a pot." The phrase go to pot "be ruined or wasted" (16c.) suggests cooking, perhaps meat cut up for the pot. In phrases, the pot calls the kettle black-arse (said of one who blames another for what he himself is also guilty of) is from c. 1700; shit or get off the pot is traced by Partridge to Canadian armed forces in World War II. To keep the pot boiling "provide the necessities of life" is from 1650s.
c. 1300, "to make, with an edged tool or instrument, an incision in; make incisions for the purpose of dividing into two or more parts; remove by means of a cutting instrument;" of an implement, "have a cutting edge," according to Middle English Compendium from a presumed Old English *cyttan, "since ME has the normal regional variants of the vowel." Others suggest a possible Scandinavian etymology from North Germanic *kut- (source also of Swedish dialectal kuta "to cut," kuta "knife," Old Norse kuti "knife"), or that it is from Old French couteau "knife."
From early 14c. as "to make or fashion by cutting or carving." From c. 1400 as "to intersect or cross." From early 15c. as "abridge or shorten by omitting a part."
Meaning "to wound the sensibilities of" is from 1580s (to cut the heart in the same sense is attested from early 14c.). Sense of "sever connection or relations with" is from 1630s.
Meaning "to be absent without excuse" is British university slang from 1794. Colloquial or slang sense of "move off with directness and rapidity" is from 1580s. Meaning "divide (a deck of cards) at random into parts before the deal" to prevent cheating is from 1530s.
Meaning "to dilute, adulterate" (liquor, etc.) is by 1930. Colloquial sense of "to divide or share" is by 1928, perhaps an image from meat-carving at table. As a director's call to halt recording or performing, by 1931 (in an article about Pete, the bulldog with the black-ringed eye in the Hal Roach studios shorts, who was said to know the word). The sense of "perform, execute" (c. 1600) is in cut capers "frisk about;" cut a dash "make a display."
To cut down is from late 14c. as "to fell;" by 1821 as "to slay" (as with a sword); 1857 as "to curtail." To cut (someone or something) down to size is from 1821 as "reduce to suitable dimensions;" the figurative sense, "reduce to the proper level of importance," is by 1927.
To cut in "enter suddenly and unceremoniously" is from 1610s; sense of "suddenly join in conversation, interrupt" is by 1830. To cut up "cut in pieces" is from 1570s. To cut back is from 1871 as "prune by cutting off shoots," 1913 in cinematography, "return to a previous scene by repeating a part of it," 1943 as "reduce, decrease" (of expenditures, etc.). To cut (something) short "abridge, curtail, interrupt" is from 1540s.
In nautical use to cut a feather (1620s) is to move so fast as to make water foam under the bow. To cut and run (1704) also is originally nautical, "cut cable and set sail immediately," as in an emergency, hence, generally, "to make off suddenly."
To cut the teeth "have the teeth grow through the gums" as an infant is from 1670s. To cut both ways in the figurative sense of "have a good and bad effect" is from c. 1600. To cut loose "set (something) free" is by 1828; intransitive sense "begin to act freely" is by 1909.
Cut it out "remove (something) by or as if by cutting" yielded a figurative use in the command cut it out! "Stop! That's enough!" by 1933. The evolution seems to have begun earlier. A piece attributed to the Chicago Live Stock World that made the rounds in trade publications 1901-02 begins:
When you get 'hot' about something and vow you are going to rip something or somebody up the back—cut it out.
If you feel disposed to try the plan of building yourself up by tearing some one else down—cut it out.
Playing on both senses, it ends with "Should you, after reading this preachy stuff, fear you might forget some of the good advice—cut it out."
Old English deop "having considerable extension downward," especially as measured from the top or surface, also figuratively, "profound, awful, mysterious; serious, solemn," from Proto-Germanic *deupaz (source also of Old Saxon diop, Old Frisian diap, Dutch diep, Old High German tiof, German tief, Old Norse djupr, Danish dyb, Swedish djup, Gothic diups "deep"), from PIE root *dheub- "deep, hollow" (source also of Lithuanian dubus "deep, hollow," Old Church Slavonic duno "bottom, foundation," Welsh dwfn "deep," Old Irish domun "world," via sense development from "bottom" to "foundation" to "earth" to "world").
By early 14c. "extensive in any direction analogous to downward," as measured from the front. From late 14c. of sound, "low in pitch, grave," also of color, "intense." By c. 1200, of persons, "sagacious, of penetrating mind." From 1560s, of debt., etc., "closely involved, far advanced."
Deep pocket as figurative of wealth is from 1951. To go off the deep end "lose control of oneself" is slang recorded by 1921, probably in reference to the deep end of a swimming pool, where a person on the surface can no longer touch bottom. When 3-D films seemed destined to be the next wave and the biggest thing to hit cinema since talkies, they were known as deepies (1953)., hard to understand
c. 1200, "given or granted in unusual circumstances, exceptional;" also "specific" as opposed to general or common; from Old French special, especial "special, particular, unusual" (12c., Modern French spécial) and directly from Latin specialis "individual, particular" (source also of Spanish especial, Italian speziale), from species "appearance, kind, sort" (see species).
Meaning "marked off from others by some distinguishing quality; dear, favored" is recorded from c. 1300. Also from c. 1300 is the sense of "selected for an important task; specially chosen." From mid-14c. as "extraordinary, distinguished, having a distinctive character," on the notion of "used for special occasions;" hence "excellent; precious."
From late 14c. as "individual, particular; characteristic." The meaning "limited as to function, operation, or purpose" is from 14c., but developed especially in the 19c. Special effects first attested 1951. Special interest in U.S. political sense is from 1910. Special pleading is recorded by 1680s, a term that had a sound legal meaning once but now is used generally and imprecisely. Special education in reference to those whose learning is impeded by some mental or physical handicap is from 1972.
Special pleading. (a) The allegation of special or new matter, as distinguished from a direct denial of matter previously alleged on the other side. ... (c) In popular use, the specious but unsound or unfair argumentation of one whose aim is victory rather than truth. [Century Dictionary]
1862, "having a delusive appearance of high quality," a Northern word from the American Civil War in reference to the quality of government supplies for the armies, from earlier noun meaning "rag-wool, wool made of woolen waste and old rags" (1832), perhaps a Yorkshire provincial word, of uncertain origin; according to Watkins from the same Old English source as shed (v.).
Originally used for padding, English manufacturers began making coarse wearing clothes from it, and when new it looked like broad-cloth but the gloss quickly wore off, giving the stuff a bad reputation as a cheat. The 1860 U.S. census of manufactures notes import of more than 6 million pounds of it, which was "much used in the manufacture of army and navy cloths and blankets in the United States" according to an 1865 government report.
The Days of Shoddy, as the reader will readily anticipate, are the opening months of the present war, at which time the opprobrious name first came into general use as a designation for swindling and humbug of every character; and nothing more need be said to indicate the scope of this novel. [Henry Morford, "The Days of Shoddy: A Novel of the Great Rebellion in 1861," Philadelphia, 1863]
Related: Shoddily; shoddiness.
also *ker-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut."
It forms all or part of: bias; carnage; carnal; carnation; carnival; carnivorous; carrion; cenacle; charcuterie; charnel; corium; cortex; crone; cuirass; currier; curt; decorticate; excoriate; incarnadine; incarnate; incarnation; kirtle; scabbard; scar (n.2) "bare and broken rocky face of a cliff or mountain;" scaramouche; scarf (n.2) "connecting joint;" scarp; score; scrabble; scrap (n.1) "small piece;" scrape; screen; screw; scrimmage; scrofula; scrub (n.1) "low, stunted tree;" scurf; shard; share (n.1) "portion;" share (n.2) "iron blade of a plow;" sharp; shear; shears; sheer (adj.) "absolute, utter;" shirt; shore (n.) "land bordering a large body of water;" short; shrub; skerry; skirmish; skirt.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit krnati "hurts, wounds, kills," krntati "cuts;" Hittite karsh- "to cut off;" Greek keirein "to cut, shear;" Latin curtus "short;" Lithuanian skiriu, skirti "to separate;" Old English sceran, scieran "to cleave, hew, cut with a sharp instrument;" Old Irish scaraim "I separate;" Welsh ysgar "to separate," ysgyr "fragment."