Etymology
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card (v.2)

"to comb wool," late 14c., from card (n.2) or else from Old French carder, from Old Provençal cardar "to card," from Vulgar Latin *caritare, from Latin carrere "to clean or comb with a card," perhaps from PIE root *kars- "to scrape" (see harsh). Related: Carded; carding.

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shark (v.)

c. 1600, "to live by one's wits like a needy adventurer," a word of uncertain origin (see shark (n.)); according to OED, at least partly a variant of shirk. The transitive meaning "get or obtain by sharking" is from 1610s. The verb meaning "to fish for or catch sharks" is attested by 1860 (implied in sharking (n.)). Related: Sharked.

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shark (n.2)

"a sharper, a cheat," 1590s, regarded as from shark (n.1), but probably originally a different word, and sometimes looked on as the source of shark (n.1), which see, and compare also the verb.

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shark (n.1)

"large, voracious fish," by 1560s, perhaps mid-15c., if an isolated instance in a diary in Middle English Compendium is the same word, of uncertain origin.

The meaning "dishonest person who preys on others," though attested from 1599 (sharker "artful swindler" in this sense is from 1594), may be the original sense, later transferred to the large, voracious marine fish. If so, it is possibly from German Schorck, a variant of Schurke "scoundrel, villain," agent noun of Middle High German schürgen (German schüren) "to poke, stir."

On an old theory, the English word is from a Mayan word, xoc, which might have meant "shark." Northern Europeans seem not to have been familiar with the larger sort of sharks before voyages to the tropics began. A slightly earlier name for it in English was tiburon, from Spanish tiburón (1520s), which probably is from a native word from South America, such as Tupi uperu "shark" (source also of Portuguese tubarão, Catalan tauró).

Middle English had hound-fish (early 14c.), which probably was used of dogfish and other small sharks. The general Germanic word seems to be represented by Old Norse har (Norwegian hai, Danis haj, Dutch haai, German Hai, also borrowed in Finnish, Latvian), which is of unknown origin. French requin is literally "grimacer," from Norman requin, from Old French reschignier "to bare the teeth, grimace."

An ancient Greek word for a shark was karkharias, from karkharos "sharp, jagged, biting," but the old theory that traces the eEnglish word to this has been dropped. Other Greek words for large selachians were aetos, bous, lamia, narkē; skylion was "dogfish." Latin used squalus, from the root of English whale (n.); Lithuanian ryklys is literally "swallower."

The English word was applied (or re-applied) to voracious or predatory persons, on the image of the fish, from 1707 (originally of pick-pockets); loan shark is attested from 1905.

There is the ordinary Brown Shark, or sea attorney, so called by sailors; a grasping, rapacious varlet, that in spite of the hard knocks received from it, often snapped viciously at our steering oar. [Herman Melville, "Mardi"]
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card (n.1)

early 15c., "a playing card," from Old French carte (14c.), from Medieval Latin carta/charta "a card, paper; a writing, a charter," from Latin charta "leaf of paper, a writing, tablet," from Greek khartēs "layer of papyrus," which is probably from Egyptian. The form has been influenced by Italian cognate carta "paper, leaf of paper." Compare chart (n.). The shift in English from -t to -d is unexplained.

The sense of "playing cards" also is the oldest of the French word. The sense in English was extended by 1590s to similar small, flat, stiff pieces of paper. As "small piece of cardboard upon which is written or printed the name, address, etc. of the person presenting it," from 1795: visiting-cards for social calls, business-cards announcing one's profession. The meaning "printed ornamental greetings for special occasions" is from 1862.

Application to clever or original persons (1836, originally with an adjective, as in smart card) is from the playing-card sense, via expressions such as sure card "an expedient certain to attain an object" (c. 1560).

Card-sharper "professional cheat at cards" is from 1859. House of cards in the figurative sense "any insecure or flimsy scheme" is from 1640s, first attested in Milton, from children's play. To (figuratively) have a card up (one's) sleeve is from 1898. To play the _______ card (for political advantage) is from 1886, originally the Orange card, meaning "appeal to Northern Irish Protestant sentiment."

Cards are first mentioned in Spain in 1371, described in detail in Switzerland in 1377, and by 1380 reliably reported from places as far apart as Florence, Basle, Regensburg, Brabant, Paris, and Barcelona. References are also claimed for earlier dates, but these are relatively sparse and do not withstand scrutiny. [David Parlett, "A History of Card Games"]
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card (v.1)

1540s, "to play cards" (now obsolete), from card (n.1). From 1925 as "to write (something) on a card for filing." Meaning "require (someone) to show an identification card" is from 1970s. Related: Carded; carding.

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card (n.2)

"implement or machine for combing, brush with wire teeth used in disentangling fibers for spinning," late 14c. (mid-14c. in surname Cardmaker), from Old French carde "card, teasel," from Old Provençal cardo or some other Romanic source (compare Spanish and Italian carda "thistle, tease, card," back-formation from cardar "to card" (see card (v.2)). The English word probably also comes via Anglo-Latin cardo, from Medieval Latin carda "a teasel," from Latin carduus.

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credit-card (n.)

1952 in the modern sense; see credit (n.) + card (n.1). The phrase was used late 19c. to mean "traveler's check."

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wild card (n.)

1950 in figurative sense, from literal use in certain forms of poker (1941), from wild (adj.) + card (n.1). The phrase was used occasionally c. 1900 in British and Irish writing to mean "drinking, free-spirited man."

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land-shark (n.)

"person who cheats or robs sailors ashore," 1769, from land (n.) + shark (n.). Smyth ("Sailor's Word-book," 1867) lists the types as "Crimps, pettifogging attorneys, slopmongers, and the canaille infesting the slums of seaport towns." As "land-grabber, speculator in real estate" from 1839. In both senses often in Australian and New Zealand publications during 19c.

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