early 14c., controve, contreve, "to invent, devise, plan;" late 14c., "to manage by a plan or scheme," from Old French controver (Modern French controuver) "to find out, contrive, imagine," from Late Latin contropare "to compare" (via a figure of speech), from an assimilated form of Latin com "with, together" (see con-) + tropus "song, musical mode," from Greek tropos "figure of speech" (from PIE root *trep- "to turn").
Sense evolution (in French) was from "invent with ingenuity" to "invent falsely." Spelling in English was altered by the same unexplained 15c. sound change that also affected briar, friar, choir. Related: Contrived; contriving.
"thorny shrub, heath," 1540s, a variant of Middle English brere, from Old English brer (Anglian), brær (West Saxon) "brier, bramble, prickly bush," which is of unknown origin. Briar is the most recent variant (c. 1600). Originally used of prickly, thorny bushes in general, now mostly restricted to wild rose bushes (sweet briar). Used figuratively (in plural) for "troubles" from c. 1500. French bruyère "heath plant" (source of brier (n.2)) is considered to be unrelated.
"copse, thicket," 1590s, from Old French espinoi "briar-patch, place full of thorns and brambles" (13c., Modern French épinaie), from espine or from Latin spinetum "thorn hedge, thicket" (see spine).
"sweet briar," c. 1400, from French églantine, from Old French aiglent "dog rose," from Vulgar Latin *aquilentus "rich in prickles," from Latin aculeus "spine, prickle," diminutive of acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce").
"seed pod" (especially of wild rose), a 16c. alteration of Middle English hepe, from Old English heope, hiope "seed vessel of the wild rose," from Proto-Germanic *hiup- (source also of dialectal Norwegian hjupa, Old Saxon hiopo, Dutch joop, Old High German hiafo, dialectal German Hiefe, Old English hiopa "briar, bramble"), of unknown origin.
type of tobacco pipe introduced to England c. 1859 and made from the root of a certain shrub (Erica arborea) in the south of France and Corsica, 1868, from French bruyère "heath plant," from Old French bruiere "heather, briar, heathland, moor" (12c.), from Gallo-Roman *brucaria, from Late Latin brucus "heather," from Gaulish *bruko- (compare Breton brug "heath," Welsh brwg, Old Irish froech). The form was altered in English by influence of brier (n.1).
1824, originally in African-American vernacular in the South.
The slaves themselves entertain the very highest contempt for white servants, whom they designate as 'poor white trash.' [Fanny Kemble, journal, Jan. 6, 1833]
[T]he term [poor white] is rather loosely applied by Northern writers even to mountaineers and to small farmers who live on a precarious footing. But in the Southern conception, not everyone who is both poor and white is a "poor white." To the Southerner, the "poor white" in the strictest sense is a being beyond the pale of even the most generous democratic recognition; in the negro's term, "po' white trash," or so much social débris. [Robert Penn Warren, "The Briar Patch," 1930, footnote]