family name (first recorded 1066), from Anglo-Norman pronunciation of Old English burgh. Not common in England itself, but it took root in Ireland, where William de Burgo went in 1171 with Henry II and later became Earl of Ulster.
As shorthand for a royalty reference book, it represents "A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the United Kingdom," first issued 1826, compiled by John Burke (1787-1848). As a verb meaning "murder by smothering," it is abstracted from William Burk, executed in Edinburgh 1829 for murdering several persons to sell their bodies for dissection (the method was chosen because it left no marks on the victims). Related: Burking.
"one who holds moderate opinions on controversial subjects, one who is opposed to extreme views or courses," 1794 (Burke), from moderate (adj.). Related: Moderatism.
city in California, named c. 1866 for George Berkeley (1685-1753), Bishop of Cloyne, who denied the objective reality of the material world. The college there opened in 1873. The surname (also Barclay) is the birch-tree wood or clearing. The transuranic element berkelium (1950) is named for the laboratory there, where it was discovered. It does not occur naturally.
Whether they knew or not
Goldsmith and Burke, Swift and the Bishop of Cloyne
All hated Whiggery; but what is Whiggery?
A levelling, rancorous, rational sort of mind
That never looked out of the eye of a saint
Or out of drunkard's eye.
[Yeats, from "The Seven Sages"]
European bird of prey, inferior hawk (Milvus ictinus, but applied elsewhere to similar birds), Old English cyta, probably imitative of its cry (compare ciegan "to call," German Kauz "screech owl"). Of persons who prey on others, 1550s.
The toy kite, a light frame covered with paper or cloth, is first so-called 1660s, from its way of hovering in the air like a bird. The dismissive invitation to go fly a kite is attested by 1942, American English, probably tracing to the popular song of the same name (lyrics by Johnny Burke), sung by Bing Crosby in "The Star Maker" (1939):
Go fly a kite and tie your troubles to the tail
They'll be blown away by a merry gale,
Go fly a kite and toss your worries to the wind
And they won't come back, they'll be too chagrined.
late 12c., "loss, lack; " c. 1200, "regret occasioned by loss or absence," from Old English miss "absence, loss," from source of missan "to miss" (see miss (v.)). Meaning "an act or fact of missing; a being without" is from late 15c.; meaning "a failure to hit or attain" is 1550s.
Phrase a miss is as good as a mile (1761) was originally an inch, in a miss, is as good as an ell (1610s; see ell). To give (something) a miss "to abstain from, avoid" is attested by 1919, perhaps from earlier use of the term in billiards, "to avoid hitting the object ball" (1807).
There are few of the niceties of the game that require more care than that of "giving a miss," and particularly when the player wishes to mask the ball. I recollect a game I played with Mr. Burke, of Cheltenham. He went off, and doubled, as was his custom, the red ball nearly over the baulk corner pocket. Not feeling disposed, against so skilful an antagonist, to run the risk of playing for a canon off his ball, I gave a miss, thinking I had masked the ball. His eye, keen and penetrating, discovered at a glance that I had just left him room to pass. He played at the red ball and holed his own ball off it by a fine cut, and scored forty points from the break. [Edward Russell Mardon, "Billiards," London, 1849]
"word by which a person or thing is denoted," Old English nama, noma "name, reputation," from Proto-Germanic *naman- (source also of Old Saxon namo, Old Frisian nama, Old High German namo, German Name, Middle Dutch name, Dutch naam, Old Norse nafn, Gothic namo "name"), from PIE root *no-men- "name."
Meaning "a famous person" is from 1610s (man of name "man of distinction" is from c. 1400). Meaning "one's reputation, that which is commonly said of a person" is from c. 1300. As a modifier meaning "well-known," it is attested by 1938.
In the name of "in behalf of, by authority of," used in invocations, etc., is by late 14c. Name-day "the day sacred to the saint whose name a person bears" is by 1721. Name brand "product made by a well-known company" is from 1944. Name-dropper "person who seeks to impress others by mentioning well-known persons in a familiar way" is by 1947. Name-child, one named out of regard for another, is attested by 1830. The name of the game "the essential thing or quality" is from 1966; to have one's name in lights "be a famous performer" is by 1908.
"I don't realize yet how fortunate I am. It seems that I have been dreaming. When I see my name in lights in front of the theatre, I think, 'No. It isn't I.' " [Billie Burke interview in "The Theatre Magazine," Nov. 1908]