Etymology
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heather (n.)

early 14c., hathir, from Old English *hæddre, Scottish or northern England dialect name for Calluna vulgaris, probably altered by heath, but real connection to that word is unlikely [Liberman, OED]. Perhaps originally Celtic. As a fem. proper name little used in U.S. before 1935, but a top-15 name for girls born there 1971-1989.

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vulgarity (n.)

1570s, "the common people," from French vulgarité and directly from Late Latin vulgaritas "the multitude," from vulgaris (see vulgar). Meaning "coarseness, crudeness" is recorded from 1774.

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mugwort (n.)

the plant Artemisia vulgaris, Old English mugcwyrt, literally "midge wort," from Proto-Germanic *muggiwurti, from *muggjo- "fly" (see midge) + *wurtiz (see wort).

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starling (n.)

"Sturnus vulgaris," Old English stærlinc "starling," with diminutive suffix -linc + stær "starling," from Proto-Germanic *staraz (source also of Old English stearn, Old Norse stari, Norwegian stare, Old High German stara, German star "starling"), from PIE *storo- "starling" (source also of Latin sturnus "starling," Old Prussian starnite "gull").

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phlox (n.)

genus of North American ornamental plants, 1706, from Latin, where it was the name of a flower (Pliny), from Greek phlox "kind of plant with showy flowers" (probably Silene vulgaris), literally "a flame," related to phlegein "to burn" (from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn"). Applied to the North American flowering plant by German botanist Johann Jakob Dillenius (1684-1747).

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vulgar (adj.)

late 14c., "common, ordinary," from Latin vulgaris, volgaris "of or pertaining to the common people, common, vulgar, low, mean," from vulgus, volgus "the common people, multitude, crowd, throng," for which de Vaan offers no further etymology.

The meaning "coarse, low, ill-bred" is recorded by 1640s, probably from earlier use (with reference to people) in the meaning "belonging to the ordinary class" (1520s). Chaucer uses peplish for "vulgar, common, plebeian" (late 14c.). Related: Vulgarly.

What we have added to human depravity is again a thoroughly Roman quality, perhaps even a Roman invention: vulgarity. That word means the mind of the herd, and specifically the herd in the city, the gutter, and the tavern. [Guy Davenport, "Wheel Ruts"]

For Vulgar Latin, see here

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lobster (n.)

large, long-tailed, stalk-eyed, 10-legged marine shellfish (Homarus vulgaris), early Middle English lopster, lopister, from Old English loppestre "lobster," also "locust," a corruption of Latin locusta, lucusta "marine shellfish, lobster;" also "locust, grasshopper," which is of unknown origin. De Vaan writes that "The only word similar in form and meaning is lacerta 'lizard; mackerel', but there is no common preform in sight. ... [T]hey could be cognate words in the language from which Latin borrowed these forms."

The change of Latin -c- to English -p- (and, from late 14c., to -b-) is unexplained; perhaps it is by influence of Old English loppe, lobbe "spider." The ending seems to have been altered by the old fem. agent noun suffix (preserved in Baxter, Webster, etc.; see -ster), which approximated the sound of Latin -sta.

OED says the Latin word originally meant "lobster or some similar crustacean, the application to the locust being suggested by the resemblance in shape." Trilobite fossils in Worcestershire limestone quarries were known colloquially as locusts, which seems to have been the generic word for "unidentified arthropod" (as apple was for "foreign fruit"). Locusta in the sense "lobster" also appears in Old Cornish legast and French langouste (12c.), now "crawfish, crayfish," but in Old French both "lobster" and "locust" (a 13c. psalter has God giving over the crops of Egypt to the langoustes).

As slang for "a British soldier" since 1640s, originally in reference to the jointed armor of the Roundhead cuirassiers, later (1660) to the red coat, the color of a boiled lobster.

Sir William Waller having received from London [in June 1643] a fresh regiment of five hundred horse, under the command of sir Arthur Haslerigge, which were so prodigiously armed that they were called by the other side the regiment of lobsters, because of their bright iron shells with which they were covered, being perfect curasseers. [Lord Clarendon, "History of the Rebellion," 1647]
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