Etymology
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cucumber (n.)

"common running garden plant," cultivated from earliest times in many Old World countries, also the long, fleshy fruit of the plant, late 14c., cucomer, from Old French cocombre (13c., Modern French concombre), from Latin cucumerem (nominative cucumis), perhaps from a pre-Italic Mediterranean language. The Latin word also is the source of Italian cocomero, Spanish cohombro, Portuguese cogombro. Replaced Old English eorþæppla (plural), literally "earth-apples."

Cowcumber was the common form of the word in 17c.-18c., in good literary use and representing the modern evolution of the Middle English form. Cucumber is an attempted reversion to Latin. In 1790s the pronunciation "cowcumber" was standard except in western England dialects and "coocumber" was considered pedantic, but 30 years later, with the spread of literacy and education "cowcumber" was limited to the ignorant and old-fashioned.

It was planted as a garden vegetable by 1609 by Jamestown colonists. Short form cuke is attested by 1977. Phrase cool as a cucumber (c. 1732) embodies ancient folk knowledge confirmed by science in 1970: inside of a field cucumber on a warm day is 20 degrees cooler than the air temperature. The sea-cucumber (1841) is so called for the shape of some species.

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gourd (n.)

c. 1300, from Anglo-French gourde, Old French coorde, ultimately from Latin cucurbita "gourd," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from a non-IE language and related to cucumis "cucumber" (see cucumber). Dried and excavated, the shell was used as a scoop or dipper.

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gherkin (n.)

small cucumber used for pickling (either a small, prickly type of cucumber produced by a certain plant (Cucumis anguria), or a green or immature common cucumber), 1660s, from early modern Dutch gurken, augurken (late 16c.) "small pickled cucumber," from East Frisian augurk "cucumber," probably from a Balto-Slavic source (compare Polish ogórek "cucumber," Lithuanian agurkas, Russian oguretsŭ), possibly ultimately from Medieval Greek angourion "a kind of cucumber," which is said to be from Persian angarah [Klein, etc.], but OED seems to regard this as unlikely. A Dutch source says the Greek is from a word for "immature" and that the vegetable originated in northern India and came to Eastern Europe via the Byzantine Empire.

The Dutch suffix is perhaps the diminutive -kin, though some regard it as a plural affix, with the Dutch word mistaken for a singular in English. The -h- was added 1800s to preserve the hard "g" pronunciation.

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pickle (n.)

c. 1400, "spiced sauce served with meat or fowl" (early 14c. as a surname), probably from Middle Dutch pekel "pickle, brine," or related words in Low German and East Frisian (Dutch pekel, East Frisian päkel, German pökel), which are of uncertain origin or original meaning. Klein suggests the name of a medieval Dutch fisherman who developed the process.

The meaning "cucumber preserved in pickle" first recorded 1707, via use of the word for the salty liquid in which meat, etc. was preserved (c. 1500). Colloquial figurative sense of "a sorry plight, a state or condition of difficulty or disorder" is recorded by 1560s, from the time when the word still meant a sauce served on meat about to be eaten. Meaning "troublesome boy" is from 1788, perhaps from the notion of being "imbued" with roguery.

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brass (adj.)

"made of brass," c. 1400, from brass (n.). Compare brazen (adj.). Slang brass balls "toughness, courage" (emphatically combining two words that serve as metaphors for the same thing) is attested by 1960s. Brass-band is from 1827.

The figurative brass tacks "essentials of a matter" that you get down to (1897, popular from c. 1910) perhaps are the ones said to have been nailed to the counters of a dry goods stores and used to measure cloth, suggesting precision, but the metaphor was unclear from the start, and brass tacks or nails in late 19c. were commonly noted as being used in upholstering. A 1911 advertisement begins " 'Getting down to brass tacks' is a characteristic American slang phrase, full of suggestion but of obscure origin."

The figurative brass monkey that suffers anatomical loss in freezing weather is attested by 1843:

Old Knites was as cool as a cucumber, and would have been so, independent of the weather, which, as he expressed it, was cold enough to freeze the nose off a brass monkey. ["An Incident of the Canadian Rebellion," in The Worcester Magazine, June, 1843]

Melville  ("Omoo," 1847) has a twist on the image in "hot enough to melt the nose h'off a brass monkey."

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ketchup (n.)

1680s, also spelled catsup which form first appeared in Jonathan Swift's 1730 poem A Panegyrick on the D--n.  This spelling is still in use in U.S., influenced by cat and sup.

In some of the earliest uses described as an East Indian sauce made with fruits and spices, with spelling catchup. If this stated origin is correct, it might be from Tulu kajipu, meaning "curry" and said to derive from kaje, "to chew." Yet the word, usually spelled ketchup, is also described in early use as something resembling anchovies or soy sauce. It is said in modern sources to be from Malay (Austronesian) kichap, a fish sauce, possibly from Chinese koechiap "brine of fish," which, if correct, perhaps is from the Chinese community in northern Vietnam [Terrien de Lacouperie, in "Babylonian and Oriental Record," 1889, 1890]. 

Lockyer's 1711 book "An Account of Trade in India" says: "Soy comes in Tubs from Jappan, and the best Ketchup from Tonqueen [Vietnam]; yet good of both sorts, are made and sold very cheap in China." This suggests that the English were buying in India sauces, which they called ketchup, that were imported from elsewhere and possibly were not all of a single national recipe.

The prepared ingredient appears in English cookbooks by the 1680s; by the 1720s a homemade sauce of mushrooms was made in imitation of it. "Apicius Redivivus; or, the Cook's Oracle," by William Kitchiner, London, 1817, devotes 7 pages to recipes for different types of catsup (his book has 1 spelling of ketchup, 72 of catsup), including walnut, mushroom, oyster, cockle and mussel, tomata, white (vinegar and anchovies figure in it), cucumber, and pudding catsup. Chambers's Encyclopaedia (1870) lists mushroom, walnut, and tomato ketchup as "the three most esteemed kinds." Tomato ketchup emerged c. 1800 in U.S. and predominated from early 20c. The word ketchup alone, meaning "tomato ketchup," was in use by 1921.

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canoodle (v.)

by 1830, "to cheat, deceive," in an English collection of Irish songs, and also used, punningly, in the lines of an Englishman character in a "grand dramatic melodrama" set in India: "There, thanks to my canoe—we've canoodled those Bramins nicely, and effected a clear retreat to my retreat here." ["The Cataract of the Ganges, or The Rajah's Daughter" by W.T. Moncrieff].

It is used in New Orleans by 1843, also as a noun, "hanky-panky, illicit procedure." After 1848, canoodling or cahoodling turns up in Southern U.S. newspapers with a sense of "political manipulation, back-room deals:

The truth is, while cahoodling at the top of his bent for Taylor, to the friends of the other candidates he professed unalterable devotion to the fortunes of the favorite of each." [North Carolina Standard (Raleigh), June 28, 1848, in an account of political doings from Washington]
Very clever canoodling, this! [North Carolina Times (Raleigh), July 1, 1848, in reference to the sectional wrangling over the Wilmot Proviso.]

Canoodling is frequent in certain North Carolina papers through the 1870s. The Standard (July 12, 1866) writes of cohooting and canoodling.

The Washington (D.C.) Evening Star also used it often from 1854, in columns widely reprinted in the Southern press, but as cahoodling, also, at least once cohoodling [Sept. 29, 1858]. It defines "the cahoodling line" as "those in Washington interested in securing places at a distance for their respective friends" [Sept. 9, 1854]. 

The word seemed to require explanation when it appeared in the northern press. From A Chicago Tribune account (Dec. 14, 1859) from a D.C. correspondent of the fight over Speaker of the House:

He also handed to the Clerk a letter from Douglas denying that Greeley and he ever "cahoodled" in his (Douglas') parlor, or secure his re-election.

It is spelled canoedle in a Pennsylvania paper [Lebanon Daily News, Oct. 17, 1874], but this might have been for humorous effect, as it is in a mock letter to a would-be candidate ("You canoedling unculinary old cucumber, shut up ; you have no chance for Congress, and Cherrington says you are not fit to watch his fish ponds.")

The sense shift toward "to indulge in caresses and fondling endearments" [OED] is attested by 1860s; W.S. Fortey published in an English songbook "And he Said my Dear Maid will you Marry Me?" a woman's comical lament about her wooer:

But he wanted to kiss and canoodle me
So I wouldn't allow it at all!

What is evidently a reworking of the "Ganges" play from 1866 uses canoodling in a way suggestive of fond caressing. [The Western Times, Exeter, Dec. 28, 1866]. Another early use is in Trewman's Exeter Flying Post for Feb. 18, 1874. The newspaper's account of the Cullompton petty session of two days previous includes the case of a young fellow charged with "being on the premises of Mr. R. M. Dawdney, of Pound Down Farm, Silverton, for an unlawful purpose," viz. to spoon with his sweetheart, Dawdney's servant girl, "in the small hours of the morning."

The defendant was directed to pay the expenses and he left the court with the evident impression that "canoodling" by night was sometimes attended with unpleasant results.

In 1869 W.S. Gilbert published "The King of Canoodle-Dum," one of his popular, buffoonish "Bab Ballads." It concerns an English sailor shipwrecked in the West Indies who is taken up by said native "king" and given a life of tropical luxury. Thanks probably to the song, Canoodle-dum seems to have had some currency in England in the 1870s, referring vaguely to peoples in Africa or the Caribbean.

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