Etymology
Advertisement
agate (n.)
variety of banded, colored quartz, 1560s, from French agate, from Latin achates, from Greek akhates, the name of a river in Sicily where the stones were found (Pliny). But the river could as easily be named for the stone.

Earlier in English as achate (early 13c.), directly from Latin. The Elizabethan sense of "a diminutive person" is from the small figures cut in agates for seals, etc., and the notion of smallness is preserved in typographer's agate (1838), the U.S. name of the 5.5-point font called in Great Britain ruby. Meaning "toy marble made of glass resembling agate" is from 1843 (colloquially called an aggie). Related: Agatine.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
Achates 
armor-bearer and faithful friend of Aeneas in the "Aeneid;" The phrase fidus Achates was proverbial for "faithful friend, loyal and devoted companion." The name is from Greek akhates "agate" (see agate).
Related entries & more 
aggie (n.2)

type of toy marble, by 1905, American English, colloquial shortening of agate (q.v.).

Excited groups gather about rude circles scratched in the mud, and there is talk of "pureys," and "reals," and "aggies," and "commies," and "fen dubs!" There is a rich click about the bulging pockets of the boys, and every so often in school time something drops on the floor and rolls noisily across the room. When Miss Daniels asks: "Who did that?" the boys all look so astonished. Who did what pray tell? [McClure's magazine, May 1905]
Related entries & more 
cameo (n.)
early 15c., kaadmaheu, camew, chamehieux and many other spellings (from early 13c. in Anglo-Latin), "engraving in relief upon a precious stone with two layers of colors" (such as onyx, agate, or shell) and done so as to utilize the effect of the colors, from Old French camaieu and directly from Medieval Latin cammaeus, which is of unknown origin, perhaps ultimately from Arabic qamaa'il "flower buds," or Persian chumahan "agate."

In 19c. also used of other raised, carved work on a miniature scale. Transferred sense of "small character or part that stands out from other minor parts" in a play, etc., is from 1928, from earlier meaning "short literary sketch or portrait" (1851), a transferred sense from cameo silhouettes. A cameotype (1864) was a small, vignette daguerreotype mounted in a jeweled setting.
Related entries & more 
moss (n.)

the meanings "mass of small, cryptogamous, herbaceous plants growing together" and "bog, peat-bog" are the same word: Old English meos "moss plant" and mos "bog;" both are from Proto-Germanic *musan (source also of Old High German mios, Danish mos, German Moos), also in part from Old Norse mosi "moss, bog," and Medieval Latin mossa "moss," from the same Germanic source.

These are from PIE *meus- "damp," with derivatives referring to swamps and swamp vegetation (source also of Latin muscus "moss," Lithuanian mūsai "mold, mildew," Old Church Slavonic muchu "moss"). The Germanic languages have the word in both senses, which is natural because moss is the characteristic plant of boggy places. It is impossible to say which sense is original. The proverb that a rolling stone gathers no moss is suggested from 14c.:

Selden Moseþ þe Marbelston þat men ofte treden. ["Piers Plowman," 1362]

Moss-agate "agate stone with moss-like dendrite forms (caused by metallic oxides)" is from 1790. Scott (1805) revived 17c. moss-trooper "freebooter infesting Scottish border marshes" (compare bog-trotter).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement