Etymology
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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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Iron Cross 

from German eiserne kreuz, instituted 1813 by Frederick Wilhelm III of Prussia, originally for distinguished military service in the wars against Napoleon.

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kitchen sink (n.)

sink to wash food, dishes, etc., 1824. Phrase everything but (or and) the kitchen sink is attested from 1944, from World War II armed forces slang, in reference to intense bombardment.

Out for blood, our Navy throws everything but the kitchen sink at Jap vessels, warships and transports alike. [Shell fuel advertisement, Life magazine, Jan. 24, 1944]

Earlier was everything but the kitchen stove (1919).

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Maundy Thursday 

Thursday before Easter, mid-15c., from Middle English maunde "the Last Supper" (c. 1300), also "ceremony of washing the feet of poor persons or inferiors, performed as a religious rite on Maundy Thursday" (early 14c.), from Old French mandé, from Latin mandatum "commandment" (see mandate (n.)); said to be so called in reference to the opening words of the Latin church service for this day, Mandatum novum do vobis "A new commandment I give unto you" (John xiii:34), words supposedly spoken by Jesus to the Apostles after washing their feet at the Last Supper.

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red cross (n.)

early 15c. as the national emblem of England (St. George's Cross), also the badge of the Order of the Temple. Hence red-cross knight, one bearing such a marking on shield or crest. In 17c., a red cross was the mark placed on the doors of London houses infected with the plague. The red cross was adopted as a symbol of ambulance service in 1864 by the Geneva Conference, and the Red Cross Society (later also, in Muslim lands, Red Crescent) philanthropic organization was founded to carry out the views of the 1864 conference as well as other works of relief.

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dumdum (n.)

type of metal-cased bullet which expands on impact, 1897, named for Dum-Dum arsenal in Bengal. British army soldiers made them to use against fanatical charges by tribesmen. Outlawed by international declaration, 1899. The place name is literally "hill, mound, battery," cognate with Persian damdama.

It was to stop these fanatics [Ghazi] — and that firstclass fighting man Fuzzy-Wuzzy, of the Soudan and of Somaliland—that the thing known as the Dum-Dum bullet was invented. No ordinary bullet, unless it hits them in a vital part or breaks a leg, will be sufficient to put the brake on these magnificently brave people. ["For Foreign Service: Hints on Soldiering in the Shiny East," London, 1915]
Pile on the brown man's burden
And if ye rouse his hate,
Meet his old fashioned reasons
With Maxims up-to-date;
With shells and dum dum bullets
A hundred times make plain,
The brown man's loss must ever
Imply the white man's gain.
[Henry Labouchère, from "The Brown Man's Burden," 1899]
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a cappella 

1868, earlier alla capella (1824), from Italian, "in the style of Church music, in the manner of the chapel," literally "according to the chapel," from cappella "chapel" (see chapel). Originally in reference to older church music (pre-1600) which was written for unaccompanied voices; applied 20c. to unaccompanied vocal music generally. Italian a is from Latin ad "to, toward; for; according to" (see ad-); alla is a la "to the." Sometimes in the Latin form a capella.

Also denoting "that instruments are to play in unison with the voices, or that one part is to be played by a number instruments." ["Chambers's Encyclopaedia," 1868]

You are not the first person puzzled by the expression "A Capella," or, at any rate, unable to understand it should signify the exact reverse of what it literally does signify. The chorales in oratorios were invariably accompanied, either by double-bass or the whole band. Hence they were, with perfect correctness, said to be performed "a capella." But, as other chorales, sung as part of the church service, were written in the same and simple style the expression "a capella" came in time to be applied to them also, despite their being sung without any instrumental accompaniment whatever. [The Music World, Sept. 11, 1875]
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