c. 1300, clarte, clerte "brightness, radiance; glory, splendor," from Old French clerte, clartet (Modern French clarté) "clarity, brightness," from Latin claritas "brightness, splendor," also, of sounds, "clearness;" figuratively "celebrity, renown, fame," from clarare "make clear," from clarus "clear" (see clear (adj.)).
Modern form is first attested early 15c., perhaps a reborrowing directly from Latin. Original senses are obsolete; meaning "clearness" (of color, judgment, style, etc.) is from mid-15c.
It forms all or part of: acclaim; acclamation; Aufklarung; calendar; chiaroscuro; claim; Claire; clairvoyance; clairvoyant; clamor; Clara; claret; clarify; clarinet; clarion; clarity; class; clear; cledonism; conciliate; conciliation; council; declaim; declare; disclaim; ecclesiastic; eclair; exclaim; glair; hale (v.); halyard; intercalate; haul; keelhaul; low (v.); nomenclature; paraclete; proclaim; reclaim; reconcile.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit usakala "cock," literally "dawn-calling;" Latin calare "to announce solemnly, call out," clamare "to cry out, shout, proclaim;" Middle Irish cailech "cock;" Greek kalein "to call," kelados "noise," kledon "report, fame;" Old High German halan "to call;" Old English hlowan "to low, make a noise like a cow;" Lithuanian kalba "language."
1590s, "destroy the clarity of" (a transferred sense); literal sense ("to bathe in mud") is from c. 1600; perhaps frequentative formation from mud, or from Dutch moddelen "to make (water) muddy," from the same Proto-Germanic source. Sense of "to make muddy" is from 1670s; that of "make confused, bewilder" is recorded by 1680s. Meaning "to bungle" is from 1885. Related: Muddled; muddling.
name of a movement in poetry that sought clarity of expression through use of precise visual images, "hard light, clear edges" [Pound], coined 1912 by Ezra Pound; see image (n.) + -ism. Related: Imagist.
—Say it, no ideas but in things—
nothing but the blank faces of the houses
and cylindrical trees
bent, forked by preconception and accident—
split, furrowed, creased, mottled, stained—
secret—into the body of the light!
[William Carlos Williams, from "Paterson"]
Sense of "easy to understand, free from obscurity of meaning, marked by intellectual clarity" first recorded 1786. Lucid interval "period of calm or temporary sanity" (1580s) is from Medieval Latin lucida intervalla (plural), common in medieval legal documents (non est compos mentis, sed gaudet lucidis intervallis, etc.). The notion probably is of a period of calm and clear during a storm. Related: Lucidly; lucidness (1640s).
punctuation mark, 1520s as a Latin word, nativized by 1590s, from Latin comma "short phrase or clause of a sentence or line of poetry," from Greek komma "clause in a sentence," also ""stamp, coinage," literally "piece which is cut off," from koptein "to strike, smite, cut off; disable, tire out," which is perhaps from PIE root *kop- "to beat, strike, smite" (see hatchet (n.)), or perhaps Pre-Greek.
Like colon (n.1) and period it was originally a Greek rhetorical term for a part of a sentence, and like them it has been transferred to the punctuation mark that identifies it. In reading aloud the punctuation mark is used to admit small interruptions in continuity of speech for the sake of clarity, but its purpose is to indicate grammatical structure.