Etymology
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broom (n.)

Old English brom, popular name for several types of shrubs common throughout Europe (used medicinally and for fuel) and characterized by long, slender branches and many yellow flowers, from Proto-Germanic *bræmaz "thorny bush" (source also of Dutch braam, German Brombeere "blackberry"), from PIE *bh(e)rem- "to project; a point."

As "twigs of broom tied together to a handle to make a tool for sweeping," mid-14c. Traditionally, both the flowers and sweeping with broom twigs were considered unlucky in May (Suffolk, Sussex, Wiltshire, etc.).

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beard (n.)

"close growth of hair on the chin and lower face, normally characteristic of an adult male" (that of the upper lip being distinguished in Modern English as the mustache), Old English beard "beard," from Proto-Germanic *bard (source also of Old Frisian berd, Middle Dutch baert, Old High German bart, German bart), said in Pokorny to be from a PIE root *bhardhā- "beard" (source also of Old Church Slavonic brada, Russia boroda, Lithuanian barzda, Old Prussian bordus, and perhaps Latin barba "beard"), but Boutkan rejects this on phonetic grounds and suggests a non-IE substrate word. Old French berd is from Germanic.

The Greek and Roman Churches have long disputed about the beard. While the Romanists have at different times practised shaving, the Greeks, on the contrary, have strenuously defended the cause of long beards. Leo III. (795 AD) was the first shaved Pope. Pope Gregory IV., after the lapse of only 30 years, fulminated a Bull against bearded priests. In the 12th century the prescription of the beard was extended to the laity. Pope Honorius III. to disguise his disfigured lip, allowed his beard to grow. Henry I. of England was so much moved by a sermon directed against his beard that he resigned it to the barber. Frederick Barbarossa is said to have been equally tractable. [Tom Robinson, M.D., "Beards," St. James's Magazine, 1881]

Pubic hair sense is from 1600s (but neþir berd "pubic hair" is from late 14c.); in the 1811 "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," the phrase beard-splitter is defined as, "A man much given to wenching" (compare beaver in the slang genital sense).

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beard (v.)

c. 1300, "to grow or have a beard," from beard (n.). The sense of "confront boldly and directly" is from Middle English phrases such as rennen in berd "oppose openly" (c. 1200), reproven in the berd "to rebuke directly and personally" (c. 1400), on the same notion as modern slang get in (someone's) face. Related: Bearded (Old English); bearding.

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grass (n.)

Old English græs, gærs "herb, plant, grass," from Proto-Germanic *grasan (source also of Old Frisian gers "grass, turf, kind of grass," Old Norse, Old Saxon, Dutch, Old High German, German, Gothic gras, Swedish gräs"grass"), which, according to Watkins, is from PIE *ghros- "young shoot, sprout," from root *ghre- "to grow, become green," thus related to grow and green, but not to Latin grāmen "grass, plant, herb." But Boutkan considers grāmen the only reliable cognate and proposes a substrate origin.

As a color name (especially grass-green, Old English græsgrene) by c. 1300. Sense of "marijuana" is recorded by 1932, American English. The grass skirt worn by people native to tropical regions is mentioned by 1874; the warning to keep off the grass by 1843 (in New York City's Central Park). Grass-fed of cattle, etc., (opposed to stall-fed) is from 1774.

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grass roots (n.)

1650s, from grass + root (n.). The image of grass roots as the most fundamental level of anything is from 1901; U.S. political sense of "the rank and file of the electorate" (also grassroots) is attested from 1912; as an adjective by 1918.

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sweet-grass (n.)

1570s, from sweet (adj.) + grass (n.). Perhaps so called for the fondness of cattle for it.

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long-beard (n.)

"man with a long beard," late 14c., from long (adj.) + beard (n.).

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grass widow (n.)

1520s, the earliest recorded sense is "mistress;" the allusion to grass is not clear, but it commonly was believed to refer to casual bedding (compare bastard and German Strohwitwe, literally "straw-widow," and compare the expression give (a woman) a grass gown "roll her playfully on the grass" (1580s), also euphemistic for the loss of virginity). Revived late 18c. as "one that pretends to have been married, but never was, yet has children;" in early 19c. use it could mean "married woman whose husband is absent" (and often presumed, but not certainly known to be, dead), also often applied to a divorced or discarded wife or an unmarried woman who has had a child. Both euphemistic and suggestive.

[G]rasse wydowes ... be yet as seuerall as a barbours chayre and neuer take but one at onys. [More, 1528]
GRASS WIDOW, s. a forsaken fair one, whose nuptials, not celebrated in a church, were consummated, in all pastoral simplicity, on the green turf. [Rev. Robert Forby, "Vocabulary of East Anglia," London, 1830]
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sand-grass (n.)

any type of grass growing in sand and serving to bind it, 1766; see sand (n.) + grass (n.).

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espadrille (n.)

shoe with soles of hemp-rope (originally worn in the Pyrenees), 1892, from French espadrille (17c.), from Provençal espardillo, from Latin spartum "Spanish broom, Spanish grass," a plant of Iberia and North Africa that produced a fiber used to make mats, nets, ropes, etc., from Greek sparton "rope made of spartos" ("Spanish broom"), from PIE *spr-to-, from root *sper- (2) "to turn, twist" (see Sparta). For initial e- see e-.

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