Hymnal measure (a quatrain, usually iambic, alternately rhymed) is so called for being the preferred verse form for English hymns (such as "Amazing Grace"). It has been popular in English secular poetry as well, "though it almost always suggests the hymn, directly or ironically" [Miller Williams, "Patterns of Poetry," 1986].
early 15c., "mythical, legendary," from Latin fabulosus "celebrated in fable;" also "rich in myths," from fabula "story, tale" (see fable (n.)). Meaning "pertaining to fable" is from 1550s. Sense of "incredible" first recorded c. 1600, hence "enormous, immense, amazing," which was trivialized by 1950s to "marvelous, terrific." Slang shortening fab first recorded 1957; popularized in reference to The Beatles, c. 1963.
Fabulous (often contracted to fab(s)) and fantastic are also in that long list of words which boys and girls use for a time to express high commendation and then get tired of, such as, to go no farther back than the present century, topping, spiffing, ripping, wizard, super, posh, smashing. [Gower's 1965 revision of Fowler's "Modern English Usage"]
Related: Fabulously; fabulousness.
"servile black man," 1922, somewhat inaccurately in reference to the humble, pious, but strong-willed main character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1852). The image implied in the insult perhaps is more traceable to the late 19c. minstel show versions of the story, which reached a far wider audience than the book.
I don't recall anyone in the 1920s using the term 'Uncle Tom' as an epithet. But what's amazing is how fast it caught on (in the 1930s). Black scholars picked up (the term) and just started throwing it at each other. [Ernest Allen, quoted in Hamilton, Kendra, "The Strange Career of Uncle Tom," Black Issues in Higher Education, June 2002]
As a verb, attested from 1937.
"beam of light, light emitted in a given direction from a luminous body," early 14c., rai, from Old French rai (nominative rais) "ray (of the sun), spoke (of a wheel); gush, spurt," from Latin radius "ray, spoke, staff, rod" (see radius). Not common before 17c. [OED]; of the sun, usually in reference to heat (beam being preferred for light).
Ray is usually distinguished from beam, as indicating a smaller amount of light; in scientific use a beam is a collection of parallel rays. In ordinary language ray is the word usually employed when the reference is to the heat rather than the light of the sun .... [OED]
Science fiction's ray-gun is recorded by 1931 (in Amazing Stories; electric ray gun as an imaginary weapon is from 1924; death-ray gun from 1926 as a prop in a vaudeville act), but the Martians had a Heat-Ray weapon in "War of the Worlds" (1898).
1570s, "condition of being an orphan," from orphan (n.) + -age. Meaning "home for orphans" is by 1850. Other words for "condition of being an orphan" have included orphanhood (1670s); orphancy (1580s); orphanism (1590s); orphanship (1670s); and Middle English had orphanite "desolation, wretchedness" (mid-15c.). Also in the sense of "home for orphans" were orphan house (1711); orphan-asylum (1796); orphanry (1872).
ORPHANAGE ... is a very incorrect expression for an orphan-home. Fancy a "girlage" for a girl's home. "Orphanry," like pheasantry, diary, aviary, is the proper word, though I believe it is in no dictionary. "Orphanotrophy" is enough to send one off in atrophy — a word fearful and amazing. "Orphanhood" is a good word, and expresses the state of being an orphan. That the root of the word is Greek, and the affix English, is, I think, immaterial, because the word "orphan" is so thoroughly Anglicised that we are never thinking of [orphanos] when use it. [Notes and Queries, Jan. 20, 1872]
mid-12c., "a wondrous work of God," from Old French miracle (11c.) "miracle, story of a miracle, miracle play," from Latin miraculum "object of wonder" (in Church Latin, "marvelous event caused by God"), from mirari "to wonder at, marvel, be astonished," figuratively "to regard, esteem," from mirus "wonderful, astonishing, amazing," earlier *smeiros, from PIE *smei- "to smile, laugh" (source also of Sanskrit smerah "smiling," Greek meidan "to smile," Old Church Slavonic smejo "to laugh;" see smile (v.)). The Latin word is the source of Spanish milagro, Italian miracolo.
From mid-13c. as "something that excites wonder or astonishment, extraordinary or remarkable feat," without regard to divinity or supernatural power. It replaced Old English wundortacen, wundorweorc. The Greek words rendered as miracle in the English bibles were semeion "sign," teras "wonder," and dynamis "power," which in the Vulgate were translated respectively as signum, prodigium, and virtus.
Miracle-drug is by 1939 (in reference to sulfanilamide). Miracle-worker "a thaumaturge" is from 1560s (Middle English had mircleour, early 15c.). Miracle-play "medieval dramatic representation of the life of Christ or a saint or other sacred subjects" is by 1744 (miraclis pleynge is from c. 1400). The condiment Miracle Whip was introduced 1933 by Kraft Foods; apparently the name was first given to the patented machine that made it.