early 14c., riflen (implied in rifling), "to plunder or pillage" (a place, house, receptacle, bag, etc.), from Old French rifler "strip, filch, plunder, peel off (skin or bark), fleece," literally "to graze, scratch" (12c.), probably from a Germanic source (compare Old English geriflian "to wrinkle," Old High German riffilon "to tear by rubbing," Old Norse rifa "grapple, seize; pull up, tear, break," hrifsa "rob, pillage").
From mid-14c. as "to rob (someone) in a thorough fashion," especially by searching pockets and clothes. Related: Rifled; rifling.
device for fastening or holding, c. 1300, probably from Middle Dutch clampe (Dutch klamp), from Proto-Germanic *klam-b- "clamp, cleat;" cognate with Middle Low German klampe "clasp, hook," Old High German klampfer "clip, clamp;" also probably related to Middle Dutch klamme "a clamp, hook, grapple," Danish klamme "a clamp, cramp," Old English clamm "a tie, fetter," perhaps from the same root as Latin glomus "ball-shaped mass" (see glebe).
It took the place of earlier clam "clamp, brace," from Old English clamm "bond, fetter, grip, grasp" (see clam (n.)).
"male of a bovine animal," c. 1200, bule, from Old Norse boli "bull, male of the domestic bovine," perhaps also from an Old English *bula, both from Proto-Germanic *bullon- (source also of Middle Dutch bulle, Dutch bul, German Bulle), perhaps from a Germanic verbal stem meaning "to roar," which survives in some German dialects and perhaps in the first element of boulder (q.v.). The other possibility [Watkins] is that the Germanic word is from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell."
An uncastrated male, reared for breeding, as opposed to a bullock or steer. Extended after 1610s to males of other large animals (elephant, alligator, whale, etc.). Stock market sense "one who seeks to cause a rise in the price of a stock" is from 1714 (compare bear (n.)). Meaning "policeman" attested by 1859. Bull-necked is from 1640s. Figurative phrase take the bull by the horns "boldly face or grapple with some danger or difficulty" first recorded 1711 (Swift). To be a bull in a china shop, figurative of careless and inappropriately destructive use of force, attested from 1812 and was the title of a popular humorous song in 1820s England.
Old English triewð (West Saxon), treowð (Mercian) "faith, faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty; veracity, quality of being true; pledge, covenant," from Germanic abstract noun *treuwitho, from Proto-Germanic treuwaz "having or characterized by good faith," from PIE *drew-o-, a suffixed form of the root *deru- "be firm, solid, steadfast." With Germanic abstract noun suffix *-itho (see -th (2)).
Sense of "something that is true" is first recorded mid-14c. Meaning "accuracy, correctness" is from 1560s. English and most other IE languages do not have a primary verb for "speak the truth," as a contrast to lie (v.). Truth squad in U.S. political sense first attested in the 1952 U.S. presidential election campaign.
At midweek the Republican campaign was bolstered by an innovation—the "truth squad" ..., a team of senators who trailed whistle-stopping Harry Truman to field what they denounced as his wild pitches. [Life magazine, Oct. 13, 1952]
Let [Truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter. [Milton, "Areopagitica," 1644]