Etymology
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pillow (n.)

"a head-rest used by a person reclining," especially a soft, elastic cushion filled with down, feathers, etc., Middle English pilwe, from Old English pyle "cushion, bed-cushion, pillow," from West Germanic *pulwi(n) (source also of Old Saxon puli, Middle Dutch polu, Dutch peluw, Old High German pfuliwi, German Pfühl), an early borrowing (2c. or 3c.) from Latin pulvinus "little cushion, small pillow," of uncertain origin. The modern spelling in English is from mid-15c.

Pillow fight (n.) "mock combat using pillows as weapons" is attested from 1837; slang pillow talk (n.) "relaxed intimate conversation between a couple in bed" is recorded by 1939. Pillow-case "washable cloth drawn over a pillow" is by 1745. Pillow-sham is by 1867.

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pillow (v.)

"to rest or place on or as on a pillow," 1620s, from pillow (n.). Related: Pillowed; pillowing.

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pillowy (adj.)

"like a pillow, soft, yielding," 1798, from pillow (n.) + -y (2).

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cod-piece (n.)

also codpiece, mid-15c., in male costume c. 1450-1550, a bagged appendage to the front of close-fitting breeches, "often conspicuous and ornamented" [OED], from Old English codd "a bag, pouch, husk," in Middle English, "testicles" (cognate with Old Norse koddi "pillow; scrotum") + piece (n.1).

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bolster (n.)

Old English bolster "bolster, cushion, something stuffed so that it swells up," especially "a long, stuffed pillow," from Proto-Germanic *bolkhstraz (source also of Old Norse bolstr, Danish, Swedish, Dutch bolster, German polster), from PIE *bhelgh- "to swell," extended form of root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell." Applied since 15c. to various parts which support others.

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shake-up (n.)

also shakeup, 1847, "a shaking or stirring up;" 1899, "reorganization;" from the verbal phrase; see shake (v.) + up (adv.). Also in colloquial use, "a commotion, disturbance" (1880s). The verbal phrase shake up is attested from 1753 as "to shake together for the purposes of combining;" by 1833 as "to loosen and restore (a pillow, etc.) to proper condition by shaking;" and by 1884 as "upset the nerves, agitate" on the notion of "jar thoroughly in such a way as to damage or impair."

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poltroon (n.)

"A coward; a nidgit; a scoundrel" [Johnson, who spells it poltron], 1520s, from French poultron "rascal, coward; sluggard" (16c., Modern French poltron), from Italian poltrone "lazy fellow, coward," from poltro "lazy, cowardly," which is apparently from poltro "couch, bed" (compare Milanese polter, Venetian poltrona "couch"), perhaps from a Germanic source (compare Old High German polstar "pillow;" see bolster (n.)), or perhaps from Latin pullus "young of an animal" (from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little"). Also see -oon. Related: Poltroonish; poltroonery.

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sham (n.)

1670s, "a trick put upon one, a hoax, a fraud, something that deludes or disappoints expectation," a word of uncertain origin. Along with the verb ("to cheat, trick") and the adjective ("false, pretended"), the word burst into use about 1677 according to OED. Perhaps they are from sham, a northern dialectal variant of shame (n.); a derivation suggested by 1734 and which OED finds "not impossible."

The main modern sense of "something meant to be mistaken for something else, something meant to give a false outward appearance" is from 1728 (the verb in the related sense is from 1690s); applied to persons by 1850.

The meaning "false front" in pillow-sham (1721) is from the notion of "counterfeit." Related: Shammed; shamming; shammer. Shamateur "amateur sportsman who acts like a professional" is from 1896. A song from 1716 calls the Pretender the Shamster.

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*bhel- (2)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to blow, swell," "with derivatives referring to various round objects and to the notion of tumescent masculinity" [Watkins].

It forms all or part of: bale (n.) "large bundle or package of merchandise prepared for transportation;" baleen; ball (n.1) "round object, compact spherical body;" balloon; ballot; bawd; bold; bole; boll; bollocks; bollix; boulder; boulevard; bowl (n.) "round pot or cup;" bulk; bull (n.1) "bovine male animal;" bullock; bulwark; follicle; folly; fool; foosball; full (v.) "to tread or beat cloth to cleanse or thicken it;" ithyphallic; pall-mall; phallus.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek phyllon "leaf," phallos "swollen penis;" Latin flos "flower," florere "to blossom, flourish," folium "leaf;" Old Prussian balsinis "cushion;" Old Norse belgr "bag, bellows;" Old English bolla "pot, cup, bowl;" Old Irish bolgaim "I swell," blath "blossom, flower," bolach "pimple," bolg "bag;" Breton bolc'h "flax pod;" Serbian buljiti "to stare, be bug-eyed;" Serbo-Croatian blazina "pillow."

An extended form of the root, *bhelgh- "to swell," forms all or part of: bellows; belly; bilge; billow; bolster; budget; bulge; Excalibur; Firbolgs.

An extended form of the root, *bhleu- "to swell, well up, overflow," forms all or part of: affluent; bloat; confluence; effluent; effluvium; efflux; fluctuate; fluent; fluid; flume; fluor; fluorescence; fluoride; fluoro-; flush (v.1) "spurt, rush out suddenly, flow with force;" fluvial; flux; influence; influenza; influx; mellifluous; phloem; reflux; superfluous.

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