Etymology
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bench-warmer (n.)

1892, baseball slang; see bench (n.) in the sporting sense.

The days for "bench-warmers" with salaries are also past. [New York Sporting News, Jan. 9, 1892]

Old English had bencsittend "one who sits on a bench."

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bench (n.)

Middle English bench, from Old English benc "long seat," especially one without a back, from Proto-Germanic *bankon(source also of Old Frisian bank "bench," Old Norse bekkr, Danish bænk, Middle Dutch banc, Old High German banch). The group is cognate with bank (n.2) "natural earthen incline beside a body of water," and perhaps the original notion is "man-made earthwork used as a seat."

Used from late 14c. of a merchant's table. From c. 1300 in reference to the seat where judges sat in court, hence, by metonymy, "judges collectively, office of a judge." Hence also bencher "senior member of an inn of court" (1580s). The sporting sense "reserve of players" (in baseball, North American football, etc.) is by 1909, from a literal sense in reference to where players sit when not in action (attested by 1889). A bench-warrant (1690s) is one issued by a judge, as opposed to one issued by an ordinary justice or magistrate.

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bench (v.)

"to take out of a (baseball) game," 1902, from bench (n.) in the sporting sense. Earlier it meant "to display (a dog) in a dog show" (1863). Related: Benched; benching. Old English had a verb bencian, but it meant "to make benches."

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leg-warmer (n.)

1974, from leg (n.) + agent noun from warm (v.). Related: Leg-warmers.

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banquet (n.)

late 15c., "feast, sumptuous entertainment," from Old French banquet "feast," earlier simply "small bench," from Old Italian banchetto, diminutive of banco "bench," variant of banca "bench," which is from a Germanic source (see bench (n.)). Apparently, etymologically, "a snack eaten on a bench" (rather than at table), hence "a slight repast between meals;" if so, the meaning has drifted.

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mountebank (n.)

"peripatetic quack; one who sells nostrums at fairs, etc.," in Johnson's words, "a doctor that mounts a bench in the market, and boasts his infallible remedies and cures;" 1570s, from Italian montambanco, contraction of monta in banco "quack, juggler," literally "mount on bench" (to be seen by crowd), from monta, imperative of montare "to mount" (see mount (v.)) + banco, variant of banca "bench," from a Germanic source (see bench (n.)). Figurative and extended senses, in reference to any impudent pretender or charlatan, are from 1580s. Related: Mountebankery.

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benchmark (n.)

also bench-mark, "surveyor's point of reference," 1838, from a specialized surveyors' use of bench (n.) + mark (n.1); the figurative sense is from 1884. The literal use is in reference to an angle-iron stuck in the ground as a support ("bench") for the leveling-staff.

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shamble (v.)

"to walk with a shuffling gait, walk awkwardly and unsteadily," 1680s (implied in shambling), from an adjective meaning "ungainly, awkward" (c. 1600), from shamble (n.) "table, bench" (see shambles), perhaps on the notion of the splayed legs of bench, or the way a worker sits astride it. Compare French bancal "bow-legged, wobbly" (of furniture), properly "bench-legged," from banc "bench." The noun meaning "a shambling gait" is from 1828. Related: Shambled.

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backbencher (n.)

"member of Parliament who does not hold office in the government or opposition," 1897 in a parliamentary context (originally Canadian), from back bench (1874 in this sense), from back (adj.) + bench (n.); occupants of the rear seats being the least-prominent politicians.

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bankrupt (adj.)

"in the state of one unable to pay just debts or meet obligations," 1560s, from Italian banca rotta, literally "a broken bench," from banca "moneylender's shop," literally "bench" (see bank (n.1)) + rotta "broken, defeated, interrupted" from (and in English remodeled on) Latin rupta, fem. past participle of rumpere "to break" (see rupture (n.)). Said to have been so called from an old custom of breaking the bench of bankrupts, but the allusion probably is figurative. The modern figurative (non-financial) sense in English is from 1580s. As a noun, "insolvent person," from 1530s.

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