third letter of the Latin alphabet. Alphabetic writing came to Rome via the southern Etruscan "Caeretan" script, in which gamma was written as a crescent. Early Romans made little use of Greek kappa and used gamma for both the "g" and "k" sounds, the latter more frequently, so that the "k" sound came to be seen as the proper one for gamma. Classical Latin -c-, with only the value "k," passed to Celtic and, via missionary Irish monks, to the Anglo-Saxons. Also see cee.
In some Old English words, before some vowels and in certain positions, -c- had a "ts" sound that was respelled ch- in Middle English by French scribes (chest, cheese, church; see ch). In Old English -k- was known but little used.
Meanwhile, in Old French, many "k" sounds drifted to "ts" and by 13c., "s," but still were written -c-. Thus the 1066 invasion brought to the English language a flood of French and Latin words in which -c- represented "s" (as in cease, ceiling, circle) and a more vigorous use of -k- to distinguish that sound. By 15c. even native English words with -s- were being respelled with -c- for "s" (ice, mice, lice).
In some English words from Italian, the -c- has a "ch" sound (via a sound evolution somewhat like the Old French one). In German, -c- in loanwords was regularized to -k- or -z- (depending on pronunciation) in the international spelling reform of 1901, which was based on the Duden guide of 1880.
As a symbol in the Roman numeral system, "one hundred;" the symbol originally was a Greek theta, but was later reduced in form and understood to stand for centum. In music, it is the name of the keynote of the natural scale, though the exact pitch varied in time and place 18c. and 19c. from 240 vibrations per second to 275; it wasn't entirely regularized (at 261.63) until the adoption of the A440 standard in the 1930s. C-spring as a type of carriage spring is from 1794, so called for its shape.
major native tribe or confederation, originally of what is now the southeastern U.S., 1725, named for creek, the geographical feature, and abbreviated from Ochese Creek Indians, from the place in Georgia (now Ocmulgee River) where the English first encountered them. The native name is Muskogee, a word of uncertain origin.
American English name for the seven-star asterism (known in England as the plough; see Charles's Wain) in the constellation Ursa Major, 1845; attested 1833 as simply the Dipper (sometimes Great Dipper, its companion constellation always being the Little Dipper). See dipper.
member of a major U.S. street gang, founded in South Central Los Angeles 1971, the name supposedly originally was cribs, partly a reference to the youth of most of the original members, and when they began carrying "pimp canes" it was altered to Crip, which has been attested in U.S. slang as a shortening of cripple (n.) since 1918.
brightest star by magnitude, late 14c., from Latin Sirius "the Dog Star," from Greek Seirios, said to mean literally "scorching" or "the scorcher." But other related Greek words seem to derive from this use, and the name might be a folk-etymologized borrowing from some other language. An Egyptian name for it was Sothis. Beekes suggests it is from PIE root *twei- "to agitate, shake, toss; excite; sparkle" if the original meaning of the star-name is "sparkling, flickering."
The connection of the star with scorching heat is due to its ancient heliacal rising at the summer solstice (see dog days). Related: Sirian (1590s). The constellation Canis Major seems to have grown from the star.
Homer made much of it as [Kyōn], but his Dog doubtless was limited to the star Sirius, as among the ancients generally till, at some unknown date, the constellation was formed as we have it, — indeed till long afterwards, for we find many allusions to the Dog in which we are uncertain whether the constellation or its lucida is referred to. [Richard Hinckley Allen, Canis Major in "Star Names and Their Meanings," London: 1899]
1797, denoting the major language group that includes Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, Assyrian, etc., distinguished by triliteral verbal roots and vowel inflection; 1826 as "of or pertaining to Semites," from Medieval Latin Semiticus (source of Spanish semitico, French semitique, German semitisch), from Semita (see Semite).
As a noun, as the name of a linguistic family, from 1813. In non-linguistic use, it is perhaps directly from German semitisch. In recent use often with the specific sense "Jewish," but not historically so delimited.
18c., the former English transliteration of the name of the major port city in southern China and the region around it, properly the name of the region, now known in English as Guangdong (formerly also transliterated as Quang-tung, Kwangtung), from guang "wide, large, vast" + dong "east." The city name itself is now transliterated as Guangzhou (guang, from the province name, + zhou "region"). One of the first Chinese cities open to Westerners; the older form of the name is from the British-run, Hong Kong-based Chinese postal system.
late 14c., "the seven virtues personified;" early 15c., "the Pleiades" (see Pleiades), seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, placed among the stars by Zeus and popularly known as the Seven Stars (see seven).
In late 20c. applied to seven venerable and prestigious U.S. colleges for women only: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley. The phrase also was applied to seven similar cannon used by the Scots at Flodden. As a late-20c. name for the major multi-national petroleum companies, Seven Sisters is attested from 1962. They were listed in 1976 as Exxon, Mobil, Gulf, Standard Oil of California, Texaco, British Petroleum, and Royal Dutch Shell.
"religious system revealed by Muhammad," 1816, from Arabic islam, literally "submission" (to the will of God), from root of aslama "he resigned, he surrendered, he submitted," causative conjunction of salima "he was safe," and related to salam "peace."
... Islam is the only major religion, along with Buddhism (if we consider the name of the religion to come from Budd, the Divine Intellect, and not the Buddha), whose name is not related to a person or ethnic group, but to the central idea of the religion. ["The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity," Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 2002]
Earlier English names for the faith include Mahometry (late 15c.), Muhammadism (1610s), Islamism (1747), and Ismaelism (c. 1600; see Ismailite). The Ismailites were not numerous in Islam, but among them were the powerful Fatimid dynasty in Egypt and the Assassins, both of which loomed large in European imagination. This use also is in part from Ishmaelite, a name formerly given (especially by Jews) to Arabs, as descendants of Ishmael (q.v.).
1590s, "of Ionia," the districts of ancient Greece inhabited by the Ionians, one of the three (or four) great divisions of the ancient Greek people. The name (which Herodotus credits to an ancestral Ion, son of Apollo and Creusa) probably is pre-Greek, perhaps related to Sanskrit yoni "womb, vulva," and a reference to goddess-worshipping people. As a noun from 1560s.
Ionia included Attica, Euboea, and the north coast of the Peloponnesus, but it especially referred to the coastal strip of Asia Minor, including the islands of Samos and Chios. The old Ionic dialect was the language of Homer and Herodotus, and, via its later form, Attic, that of all the great works of the Greeks. The name also was given to the sea that lies between Sicily and Greece, and the islands in it (1630s in English in this sense). The musical Ionian mode (1844) corresponds to our C-major scale but was characterized by the Greeks as soft and effeminate, as were the Ionians generally.
The Ionians delighted in wanton dances and songs more than the rest of the Greeks ... and wanton gestures were proverbially termed Ionic motions. [Thomas Robinson, "Archæologica Græca," 1807]