fem. proper name, from Aramaic (Semitic) Maretha, literally "lady, mistress," fem. of mar, mara "lord, master." As the type name of one concerned with domestic affairs, it is from Luke x.40-41. Martha's Vineyard was discovered 1602 by English explorer Gabriel Archer and apparently named by him, but the identity of the Martha he had in mind is unknown now.
early 15c., "damage, state of adversity;" 1550s, "a great misfortune or cause of misery," from Old French calamite (14c.), from Latin calamitatem (nominative calamitas) "damage, loss, failure; disaster, misfortune, adversity," a word of obscure origin.
Early etymologists associated it with calamus "straw" (see shawm) on the notion of damage to crops, but this seems folk-etymology. Perhaps it is from a lost root also preserved in incolumis "uninjured," from PIE *kle-mo-, from *kel- "to strike, cut" (see holt). Calamity Jane was the nickname (attested by 1876) of U.S. frontierswoman, scout, and folk-hero Martha Jane Cannary (c. 1852-1903).
"long, tedious, complicated story," by 1905, from Yiddish Megillah (as in a gantse Megillah "a whole megillah"), literally "roll, scroll," collective name of the five Old Testament books appointed to be read on certain feast days, from Hebrew meghillah, from galal "he rolled, unfolded." The slang use is in reference to the length of the text. The use of the word in English in reference to the holy books is from 1650s.
Jonas used to laugh. "What do I care for the Goyim," he said, but Isaac was different. He would talk thee a Megillah about Equality and Brotherhood,—one would have thought, he was reading something aloud out of the newspaper,—and what he meant was that the Yüd and the Goy were now alike. [Martha Wolfenstein, "A Renegade," Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1905]
early 12c., "to strive toward, devote oneself to, cultivate" (translating Latin occupatur), from Old French estudiier "to study, apply oneself, show zeal for; examine" (13c., Modern French étudier), from Medieval Latin studiare, from Latin studium "study, application," originally "eagerness," from studere "to be diligent," from PIE *(s)teu- (1) "to push, stick, knock, beat" (see steep (adj.)). The notion appears to be "pressing forward, thrusting toward," hence "strive after."
Martha swanc and becarcade to geforðigene þan Hælende and his þeowen þa lichamlice behefðen. Seo studdede emb þa uterlice þing. [Homily for the Feast of the Virgin Mary, c.1125]
From c. 1300 as "apply oneself to the acquisition of learning, pursue a formal course of study," also "read a book or writings intently or meditatively." From mid-14c. as "reflect, muse, think, ponder." Meaning "regard attentively" is from 1660s. Related: Studied; studying.