Etymology
Advertisement
midshipman (n.)

naval officer, c. 1600, originally so called because he was stationed amidships when on duty (see amid). Midships as short for amidships is by 1620s. Midship as "the middle of a ship or boat" is from 1550s.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
middy (n.)

colloquial abbreviation of midshipman, by 1818. As "loose, long type of women's blouse," 1911, from resemblance to shirts worn by midshipmen.

Related entries & more 
mid (adj.)

"middle; being the middle part or midst; being between, intermediate," Old English mid, midd from Proto-Germanic *medja- (source also of Old Norse miðr, Old Saxon middi, Old Frisian midde, Middle Dutch mydde, Old High German mitti, German mitte, Gothic midjis "mid, middle"), from PIE root *medhyo- "middle."

By late Middle English probably felt as a prefix only, and now surviving in English only as a prefix (mid-air, midstream, etc.). Prefixed to months, seasons, etc. from late Old English. As a preposition, "in the middle of, amid" (c. 1400) it is from in midde or a shortened form of amid (compare midshipman) and sometimes is written 'mid.

Related entries & more 
Pitcairn 

island in the central South Pacific, named 1767 by the commander of the British ship that found it for teen-aged midshipman Robert Pitcairn, who was first to sight it. Settled 1790 by mutineers from the Bounty and their Polynesian captives. Related: Pitcairnese.

Related entries & more 
reefer (n.)

"marijuana cigarette," 1920s, perhaps an alteration of Mexican Spanish grifo "marijuana, drug addict" [OED]; or perhaps from reef (v.), on resemblance to a rolled sail. It also meant "pickpocket" in criminal slang (by 1935), and Century Dictionary also has it as "oyster that grows on reefs in the wild."

Reefer also was a nickname for the sailing navy's equivalent to a midshipman (1818) "because they attend in the tops during the operation of reefing" [Century Dictionary], which is the source of the meaning "coat of a nautical cut" (1878) worn by sailors and fishermen "but copied for general use in the fashions of 1888-90" [CD].

Related entries & more 
Advertisement