mid-15c., "make an initial statement setting out a plaintiff's case," from libel (n.), which see for sense development. Meaning "defame or discredit by libelous statements" is from c. 1600. Related: Libeled; libelled; libeling; libelling; libellant; libellee.
c. 1300, "formal written statement, a writing of any kind," especially, in civil law, "plaintiff's statement of charges" (mid-14c.); from Old French libelle (fem.) "small book; (legal) charge, claim; writ; written report" (13c.), from Latin libellus "a little book, pamphlet; petition, written accusation, complaint," diminutive of liber "book" (see library). Meaning "false or defamatory statement" is from 1610s. Specific legal sense of "any published or written statement likely to harm a person's reputation" is first attested 1630s.
"oblique hint, indiscreet suggestion," usually a deprecatory one, 1670s, from Latin innuendo "by meaning, pointing to," literally "giving a nod to," ablative of gerund of innuere "to mean, signify," literally "to nod to," from in- "at" (from PIE root *en "in") + nuere "to nod" (see numinous).
Originally in English a legal phrase (1560s) from Medieval Latin, with the sense of "to wit," introducing an explanatory or parenthetical clause, it also introduced the derogatory meaning alleged in libel cases, which led to broader meaning. As a verb, from 1706.
mid-12c., "person of ribald speech;" c. 1300, "person fond of chiding abusive language," especially a shrewish woman [Johnson defines the noun as "A clamourous, rude, mean, low, foul-mouthed woman"], from Old Norse skald "poet" (see skald).
The sense evolution might reflect the fact that Germanic poets (like their Celtic counterparts) were famously feared for their ability to lampoon and mock (as in skaldskapr "poetry," also, in Icelandic law books, "libel in verse").
The noun meaning "act of scolding" is by 1726 but seems not to have been in common use. In old law, common scold (Latin communis rixatrix) is from late 15c.
We have not sufficient adjudications to enable us to define this offence with certainty ; but probably a definition substantially correct is the following : A common scold is one, who, by the practice of frequent scolding, disturbs the repose of the neighborhood. [Joel Prentiss Bishop, "Commentaries on the Criminal Law," Boston, 1858]
city in Pennsylvania between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, from Greek, taken by William Penn to mean "brotherly love," from philos "loving" (see philo-) + adelphos "brother" (see Adelphi). Related: Philadelphian.
Also the name recalls that of the ancient city in Lydia, mentioned in the New Testament, which was so called in honor of Attalos II Philadelphos, 2c B.C.E. king of Pergamon, who founded it. His title is said to have meant "loving the brethren" or to be a reference to his affection for his brother Eumenes, whom he succeeded.
Philadelphia lawyer "clever, shrewd attorney" is attested from 1788 in London, said originally to have been applied to Andrew Hamilton, who obtained the famous acquittal of J.P. Zenger in New York on libel charges in 1735.
[C]ricket and coaching were after all popular in their day in places besides Philadelphia. It was merely that Philadelphia kept on with them longer than most places. This is a perennial Philadelphia trick, and gives to Philadelphia a sort of perpetual feeling of loss. Philadelphians are always just now getting rid of things that are picturesque, like those gas lamps on the streets, only because everybody else got rid of them long ago. [Nathaniel Burt, "The Perennial Philadelphians," 1963]