Etymology
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Macbeth 

masc. proper name, Gaelic, literally "son of life." The first reference to bad luck associated with Shakespeare's "Macbeth," and to avoidance of naming it, is from 1896, alludes to an incident of 1885, and says the tradition goes back "so far as modern memory can recall." The original superstition seems to have pertained particularly to the witches' scenes, which were played up dramatically in 19c. productions, and especially to Matthew Locke's 17c. music to accompany the witches' song, which was regularly played through the 19th century.

It is strange how the effect of this music has exerted such a long surviving influence on members of the dramatic profession. It is still considered most unlucky to sing, hum, or whistle the witch airs in the theatre except in the ways of business. [Young-Stewart, "The Three Witches," in The Shakespearean, Sept. 15, 1896]
If you number an actor or actress among your friends, and desire to retain his or her friendship, there are three things you positively must not do, especially if the actor is of the old school. Do not whistle in the theatre, do not look over his shoulder into the glass while he is making up, and do not hum the witch's song from "Macbeth." ... [O]lder actors would almost prefer to lose their salary than go on in "Macbeth" on account of this song. They believe that it casts spells upon the members of the company. ["Some Odd Superstitions of the Stage," Theatre magazine, July 1909]
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break (v.)

Old English brecan "to divide solid matter violently into parts or fragments; to injure, violate (a promise, etc.), destroy, curtail; to break into, rush into; to burst forth, spring out; to subdue, tame" (class IV strong verb; past tense bræc, past participle brocen), from Proto-Germanic *brekanan (source also of Old Frisian breka, Dutch breken, Old High German brehhan, German brechen, Gothic brikan), from PIE root *bhreg- "to break."

Closely related to breach (n.), brake (n.1), brick (n.). The old past tense brake is obsolete or archaic; past participle is broken, but shortened form broke is attested from 14c. and was "exceedingly common" [OED] 17c.-18c.

Of bones in Old English. Formerly also of cloth, paper, etc. Meaning "escape by breaking an enclosure" is from late 14c. Intransitive sense "be or become separated into fragments or parts under action of some force" is from late 12c. Meaning "lessen, impair" is from late 15c. Meaning "make a first and partial disclosure" is from early 13c. Meaning "destroy continuity or completeness" in any way is from 1741. Of coins or bills, "to convert to smaller units of currency," by 1882. In reference to the heart from early 13c. (intransitive); to break (someone's) heart is late 14c.

Break bread "share food" (with) is from late 14c. To break ground is from 1670s as "to dig, plow," from 1709 in the figurative sense "begin to execute a plan." To break the ice "overcome the feeling of restraint in a new acquaintanceship" is from c. 1600, in reference to the "coldness" of encounters of strangers. Break wind first attested 1550s. To break (something) out (1890s) probably is an image from dock work, of freeing cargo before unloading it.

The ironic theatrical good luck formula break a leg (by 1948, said to be from at least 1920s) has parallels in German Hals- und Beinbruch "break your neck and leg," and Italian in bocca al lupo. Evidence of a highly superstitious craft (see Macbeth). According to Farmer & Henley, in 17c. the expression was used euphemistically, of a woman, "to have a bastard."

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grimalkin (n.)

name given to a cat, especially an old she-cat, 1620s, as in, or from, Shakespeare's Gray-Malkin, in "Macbeth" (1605); from gray (adj.) + Malkin, diminutive of fem. proper name Matilda or Maud.

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fell (adj.)
"cruel," late 13c., possibly late Old English, perhaps from Old French fel "cruel, fierce, vicious," from Medieval Latin fello "villain" (see felon). Phrase at one fell swoop is from "Macbeth." Related: Fellness.
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incarnadine 
1590s (adj.) "flesh-colored, carnation-colored, pale red, pink," from French incarnadin (16c.), from dialectal Italian incarnadino "flesh-color," from Late Latin incarnatio (see incarnation). The adjective now is archaic or obsolete. The word survives as a verb taken from the adjective, which properly would mean "to make flesh-colored," but means "make red" instead, the sense and the existence of the verb being entirely traceable to Lady Macbeth ("Macbeth" II ii.) in 1605. Its direct root might be the noun incarnadine "blood-red; flesh-color," though this is not attested until 1620s.
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swoop (n.)

1540s, "a blow, stroke," from swoop (v.). Meaning "the sudden pouncing of a rapacious bird on its prey" is 1605, from Shakespeare:

Oh, Hell-Kite! All? What, All my pretty Chickens, and their Damme, At one fell swoope? ["Macbeth," IV.iii.219]
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fitful (adj.)
used once by Shakespeare ("Life's fitful fever," "Macbeth," 1605) in sense of "characterized by fits," from fit (n.2) + -ful. then Revived in Romantic poetry late 18c. with a sense of "shifting, changing." Related: Fitfully (1792); fitfulness.
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coign (n.)

also coigne, an archaic spelling of quoin (q.v.) the survival of which is due to Shakespeare's coign of vantage ("Macbeth" I.vi.), popularized by Sir Walter Scott; in this phrase it is properly "a projecting corner" (for observation).

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lily-livered (adj.)
"cowardly," 1605, in "Macbeth;" from lily (in its color sense of "pale, bloodless") + liver (n.1), which was a supposed seat of love and passion. A healthy liver is typically dark reddish-brown. Other similar expressions: lily-handed "having white, delicate hands," lily-faced "pale-faced; affectedly modest or sensitive."
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sleave (v.)
"to separate or divide" (threads, strands, fibers), Old English -slæfan, from stem of -slifan "to separate, split, cleave," from Proto-Germanic *slifanan, perhaps related to the root of slip (v.). Compare German Schleife "a loop, knot, noose." Related: Sleaved; sleaving. As a noun, "knotted, tangled silk or thread," 1590s, from the verb; this is the word in Shakespeare's rauel'd Sleeue of Care ("Macbeth").
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