Etymology
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corporation (n.)

mid-15c., corporacioun, "persons united in a body for some purpose," from such use in Anglo-Latin, from Late Latin corporationem (nominative corporatio) "assumption of a body" (used of the incarnation of Christ), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin corporare "embody, make or fashion into a body," from corpus (genitive corporis) "body, dead body, animal body," also "a whole composed of united parts, a structure, system,community, corporation, political body, a guild" (from PIE root *kwrep- "body, form, appearance").

Meaning "legally authorized entity, artificial person created by law from a group or succession of persons" (such as municipal governments and modern business companies) is from 1610s.

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public (adj.)

late 14c., publike, "open to general observation," from Old French public (c. 1300) and directly from Latin publicus "of the people; of the state; done for the state," also "common, general, of or belonging to the people at large; ordinary, vulgar," and as a noun, "a commonwealth; public property." This Latin word was altered (probably by influence of Latin pubes "adult population, adult;" see pubis) from Old Latin poplicus "pertaining to the people," from populus "people" (see people (n.)).

Attested in English from early 15c. as "of or pertaining to the people at large" and from late 15c. as "pertaining to public affairs." The meaning "open to all in the community, to be shared or participated in by people at large" is from 1540s in English. An Old English adjective in this sense was folclic. The sense of "done or made by or on behalf of the community as a whole" is by 1550s; that of "regarding or directed to the interests of the community at large, patriotic" is from c. 1600.

Public relations "the management of the relationship between a company or corporation and the general public" is recorded by 1913 (with an isolated use by Thomas Jefferson in 1807). Public office "position held by a public official" is from 1821; public service is from 1570s; public interest "the common well-being" is from 1670s. Public enemy, one considered a nuisance to the general community, is attested from 1756. Public sector attested from 1949. Public funds (1713) are the funded debts of a government.

Public woman "prostitute" is by 1580s, on the notion of "open for the use of all." For public house, see pub.

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service (n.1)

c. 1100, "celebration of public worship," from Old French servise "act of homage; servitude; service at table; Mass, church ceremony," from Latin servitium "slavery, condition of a slave, servitude," also "slaves collectively," from servus "slave" (see serve (v.)).

Meaning "act of serving, occupation of an attendant servant" is attested from c. 1200, as is that of "assistance, help; a helpful act." From c. 1300 as "provision of food; sequence of dishes served in a meal;" from late 14c. as "service at table, attendance during a meal." Meaning "the furniture of the table" (tea service, etc.) is from mid-15c.

Meanings "state of being bound to undertake tasks for someone or at someone's direction; labor performed or undertaken for another" are mid-13c. Sense of "service or employment in a court or administration" is from c. 1300, as is that of "military service (especially by a knight); employment as a soldier;" hence "the military as an occupation" (1706).

Also in Middle English "sexual intercourse, conjugal relations" (mid-15c.; service of Venus, or flesh's service). Service industry (as distinct from production) attested from 1938. A service station originally was a gas stop that also repaired cars.

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public (n.)

"the general body of people constituting a nation, state, or community; the nation or state," 1610s, from public (adj.); the meaning "people in general" is from 1660s. In public "in open view, publicly, before the people at large" is attested from c. 1500.

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service (v.)
1893, "to provide with service," from service (n.1). Meaning "perform work on" first recorded 1926. Related: Serviced; servicing.
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service (n.2)
type of tree or berry, extended form of serve (perhaps via Middle English plural serves being taken as a singular), from Old English syrfe, Old French sorbe, both from Vulgar Latin *sorbea, from Latin sorbus (see sorb).
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public school (n.)

1570s, originally, in Britain, "a grammar school endowed for the benefit of the public," but most have evolved into boarding-schools for the well-to-do. From public (adj.) + school (n.1). The main modern meaning in U.S., "school (usually free) provided at public expense and run by local authorities," is attested from 1640s. 

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self-service (adj.)

"in which the customer serves himself," by 1914, in reference to shoe stores, from self- + service (n.1).

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civil service (n.)

"the executive branch of the public service," as distinguished from the military, naval, legislative, or judicial, 1765, originally in reference to non-military staff of the East India Company, from civil in the sense "not military." Civil servant is from 1792.

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lip-service (n.)
"something proffered but not performed, service with the lips only; insincere profession of good will," 1640s, from lip (n.) + service (n.1). Earlier in same sense was lip-labour (1530s). This was a general pattern in 16c.-17c., for example lip-wisdom (1580s), the wisdom of those who do not practice what they preach; lip-religion (1590s), lip-devotion "prayer without genuine faith or desire" (c. 1600); lip-comfort (1630s).
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