"the fruit of certain trees and shrubs which have the seed enclosed in a woody covering not opening when ripe," Middle English note, from Old English hnutu, from Proto-Germanic *hnut- (source also of Old Norse hnot, Dutch noot, Old High German hnuz, German Nuss "nut"), from PIE *kneu- "nut" (source also of Latin nux; see nucleus).
Sense of "testicle" is attested by 1915 (nuts). Nut-brown "brown as a ripe, dried nut" is from c. 1300 of animals; c. 1500 of complexions of women. The mechanical nut that goes onto a bolt is first recorded 1610s, from some fancied resemblance (nut was used of other small mechanical pieces since early 15c.). The figurative nuts and bolts "fundamentals" is by 1952. The American English slang sense of "amount of money required for something" is recorded by 1912.
Meaning "crazy person, crank" is attested from 1903; British form nutter is attested by 1958. Nut-case "crazy person" is from 1959; nut-house "insane asylum" is by 1929. For more on this sense, see nuts. In slang, nut also meant "fashionable or showy young man of affected elegance" [OED], 1904.
1580s (earlier buffel, 1510s, from French), from Portuguese bufalo "water buffalo," from Medieval Latin bufalus, variant of Latin bubalus "wild ox," from Greek boubalos "buffalo," originally the name of a kind of African antelope, later used of a type of domesticated ox in southern Asia and the Mediterranean lands, a word of uncertain origin. It appears to contain bous "ox, cow" (from PIE root *gwou- "ox, bull, cow"), but this is perhaps a folk-etymology association.
Wrongly applied since 1630s to the American bison. The other Germanic words (Dutch buffel, German Büffel, Danish böffel, etc.) are from French; from Medieval Latin come Russian buivolu, Polish bujwoł, Bulgarian bivol, etc. Buffalo gnat is recorded from 1822. Buffalo chip "dung of the American bison," used for fuel on the U.S. plains, is from 1840.
city in western New York state, U.S., of disputed origin (there never were bison thereabouts), perhaps from the name of a native chief, or a corruption of French beau fleuve "beautiful river." Buffalo wings finger food so called because the recipe was invented in Buffalo (1964, at Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar on Main Street).
also nutcracker, "instrument used for cracking hard-shelled nuts," 1540s, from nut (n.) + agent noun from crack (v.). Hence also "toy having a grotesque human head, in the mouth of which a nut is placed to be cracked by a screw or lever." The ballet was first performed in 1892, based on Dumas père's rendition of E.T.A. Hoffmann's 1816 story "Nussknacker und Mausekönig."
"sweetmeat made of almonds and other nuts," 1827, from French nougat (18c.), from Provençal nougat "cake made with almonds," from Old Provençal nogat "nutcake," from noga, nuga "nut," from Vulgar Latin *nucatum (nominative *nuca), from Latin nux (genitive nucis) "nut," from PIE *kneu- "nut" (see nucleus).
1590s, "nut of the pistachio tree," from Italian pistacchio, from Latin pistacium "pistachio nut," from Greek pistakion "pistachio nut," from pistakē "pistachio tree," from Persian pistah "pistachio." Borrowed earlier in English as pystace, pistace (mid-15c.), from Old French pistace (13c.) and Medieval Latin pistacia, ultimately from the same source.
"action of gathering nuts," 1723, verbal noun from nut (v.) "to gather nuts" (c. 1600), from nut (n.).