c. 1300, from Anglo-French and Old French virginite "(state of) virginity; innocence" (10c. in Old French), from Latin virginitatem (nominative virginitas) "maidenhood, virginity," from virgo (see virgin).
Distraught pretty girl: "I've lost my virginity!"
Benny Hill: "Do you still have the box it came in?"
I looked in at the Alhambra the other night, and found an excellent show, notably, a high-wire act by Mdlle. Virginia Aragon. A very handsome Spaniard with coal-black tresses, she does her work with great neatness. The best thing she does is to kneel on the wire, and, leaning forward, pick up with her teeth from between her knees, a handkerchief. Then she swings on the wire, balancing herself with one foot only. Altogether, she is the smartest wire-walker I've seen for many a day. Her sister, by the way, is a trapezist and figured at the Empire not long ago. [The Sketch, Nov. 27, 1895]
early 13c., "character attributed to someone;" late 13c., "celebrity, renown," from Old French fame "fame, reputation, renown, rumor" (12c.), from Latin fama "talk, rumor, report; reputation, public opinion; renown, good reputation," but also "ill-fame, scandal, reproach," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say."
The goddess Fama was the personification of rumor in Roman mythology. The Latin derivative fabulare was the colloquial word for "speak, talk" since the time of Plautus, whence Spanish hablar.
I've always been afraid I was going to tap the world on the shoulder for 20 years, and when it finally turned around I was going to forget what I had to say. [Tom Waits, Playboy magazine interview, March, 1988]
1841, "young cod, split and fried or boiled," possibly from Dutch schrood "piece cut off," from Middle Dutch scrode "shred" (cognate with Old English screade "piece cut off;" see shred (n.)). If this is the origin, the notion is probably of fish cut into pieces for drying or cooking.
A Boston brahmin is on a business trip to Philadelphia. In search of dinner, and hungry for that Boston favorite, broiled scrod, he hops into a cab and asks the driver, "My good man, take me someplace where I can get scrod." The cabbie replies, "Pal, that's the first time I've ever been asked that in the passive pluperfect subjunctive." [an old joke in Philadelphia, this version of it from "Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch," Constance Hale, 2012]
"too precise, over-particular," 1895, probably Southern U.S. dialect, first attested in Joel Chandler Harris, perhaps an alteration of precise (q.v.), or a merger of prim and sissy [OED]. Related: Prissily; prissiness.
["]Then Mrs Blue Hen rumpled up her feathers and got mad with herself, and went to setting. I reckon that's what you call it. I've heard some call it 'setting' and others 'sitting.' Once, when I was courting, I spoke of a sitting hen, but the young lady said I was too prissy for anything."
"What is prissy?" asked Sweetest Susan.
Mr. Rabbit shut his eyes and scratched his ear. Then he shook his head slowly.
"It's nothing but a girl's word," remarked Mrs. Meadows by way of explanation. "It means that somebody's trying hard to show off."
"I reckon that's so," said Mr. Rabbit, opening his eyes. He appeared to be much relieved.
[Joel Chandler Harris, "Mr. Rabbit at Home"]
masc. proper name, typically a shortening of Samuel (q.v.).
Sam Browne in reference to a type of belt with shoulder strap is by 1915, from Sir Samuel James Browne (1824-1901), the British general who invented it. Sam Hill as an American English emphatic euphemism for "Hell!" (in exasperation) is by 1839. Sam Slick as the type of the resourceful Yankee (especially in the mind of the South) is from the character created 1835 by Nova Scotian judge Thomas Chandler Haliburton in a series of popular books.
I’ll tell you how I’d work it. I’d say, “Here’s a book they’ve namesaked arter me, Sam Slick the Clockmaker, but it tante mine, and I can’t altogether jist say rightly whose it is …. Its about the wittiest book I ever seed. Its nearly all sold off, but jist a few copies I’ve kept for my old customers. The price is just 5s. 6d. but I’ll let you have it for 5s. because you’ll not get another chance to have one.” Always ax a sixpence more than the price, and then bate it, and when Blue Nose hears that, he thinks he’s got a bargain, and bites directly. I never see one on ’em yet that didn’t fall right into the trap. [from "The Clockmaker: The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick of Slickville"]
also monkeyshines, "monkeyish behavior, tricks, pranks, antics," U.S. slang, 1832 (in the "Jim Crow" song), from monkey (n.) + shine (n.) "a caper, trick" (1835), from an American English slang sense perhaps related to the expression cut a shine "make a fine impression" (1819); see slang senses under shine (n.). For sense of the whole word, compare Old French singerie "disreputable behavior," from singe "monkey, ape."
Also compare monkey business"foolish or deceitful conduct," attested by 1858; one early source from England describes it as a "native Indian term," but the source might be that alluded to in, among other places, this contemporary account given by a professional strongman:
After Gravesend I came up to London, and went and played the monkey at the Bower Saloon. It was the first time I had done it. There was all the monkey business, jumping over tables and chairs, and all mischievous things; and there was climbing up trees, and up two perpendicular ropes. I was dressed in a monkey's dress; it's made of some their hearth rugs; and my face was painted. It's very difficult to paint a monkey's face. I've a great knack that way, and can always manage anything of that sort. [Mayhew, "London Labour and the London Poor," 1861]
mid-14c. (implied in Tartary, "the land of the Tartars"), from Medieval Latin Tartarus, from Persian Tatar, first used 13c. in reference to the hordes of Ghengis Khan (1202-1227), said to be ultimately from Tata, a name of the Mongols for themselves. Form in European languages probably influenced by Latin Tartarus "hell" (e.g. letter of St. Louis of France, 1270: "In the present danger of the Tartars either we shall push them back into the Tartarus whence they are come, or they will bring us all into heaven").
The historical word for what now are called in ethnological works Tatars. A Turkic people, their native region was east of the Caspian Sea. Ghengis' horde was a mix of Tatars, Mongols, Turks, etc. Used figuratively for "savage, rough, irascible person" (1660s). To catch a Tartar "get hold of what cannot be controlled" is recorded from 1660s; original sense not preserved, but probably from some military story similar to the old battlefield joke:
Irish soldier (shouting from within the brush): I've captured one of the enemy.
Captain: Excellent! Bring him here.
Soldier: He won't come.
Captain: Well, then, you come here.
Soldier: I would, but he won't let me.
Among the adjectival forms that have been used are Tartarian (16c.), Tartarous (Ben Jonson), Tartarean (17c.); Byron's Tartarly (1821) is a nonce-word (but a good one). Tartar sauce is attested by 1855, from French sauce tartare.
1560s, a general term of endearment (also puggy), perhaps related to or a variant of puck (n.2); one of the earliest senses of pug is "sprite, imp" (1610s). The sense of "miniature dog" is from 1749 (pug-dog); that of "monkey" is from 1660s, perhaps on the notion of having a pert, ugly face like a little imp.
In John Milesius any man may reade
Of divels in Sarmatia honored
Call'd Kottri or Kibaldi ; such as wee
Pugs and hobgoblins call. Their dwellings bee
In corners of old houses least frequented,
Or beneath stacks of wood ; and these convented
Make fearfull noise in buttries and in dairies,
Robin good-fellowes some, some call them fairies.
[Thomas Heywood, "Hierarchie of the Blessed Angells," 1635]
The word, or identical words, at various times also meant "a husk of grain" (mid-15c.), "a bargeman" (1590s), "a harlot" (c. 1600), and "an upper servant in a great house" (1843), the last, if it is authentic, perhaps with a suggestion of "lap dog."
"I've seen him, father," said Nelly with a consequential air, "the day I was up at Fairfield Court; he came into Pug's Hole while the old lady was talking to me." For the benefit of the unlearned it should be mentioned that the under-servants "in respectable families" call upper-servants "Pugs;" and that the housekeeper's room is designated as "Pug's Hole." [F.E. Paget, "Warden of Berkingholt," 1843]