fem. proper name, from French Catherine, from Medieval Latin Katerina, from Latin Ecaterina, from Greek Aikaterine. The -h- was introduced 16c., probably a folk etymology from Greek katharos "pure" (see catharsis). The initial Greek vowel is preserved in Russian form Ekaterina.
As the name of a type of pear, attested from 1640s. Catherine wheel (early 13c.) originally was the spiked wheel on which St. Catherine of Alexandria (martyred 307), legendary virgin from the time of Maximinus, was tortured and thus became the patron saint of spinners. Her name day is Nov. 25; a popular saint in the Middle Ages, which accounts for the enduring popularity of the given name. It was applied from 1760 to a kind of fireworks shooting from a revolving spiral tube.
"young cat, child's pet name for a cat," 1719, variant of kitten, perhaps influenced by kitty "girl, young woman" (c. 1500), which originally is a pet form of fem. proper name Catherine. Kitty Hawk, the place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina where the Wright Brothers first flew, apparently is a mangling of a native Algonquian name; it also has been written as Chicahauk.
in reference to a kind of loose, full gown worn by women, 1878, from Old Mother Hubbard, nursery rhyme, which was printed 1805, written by Sarah Catherine Martin (1768-1826) but based on earlier material of unknown origin. The name is attested from 1591.
1520s, "title given to a widow of rank to distinguish her from the wife of her husband's heir bearing the same name," from French douagere "widow with a dower" literally "pertaining to a dower," from douage "dower," from douer "endow," from Latin dotare, from dos (genitive dotis) "marriage portion, dowry" (from PIE *do-ti, from root *do- "to give").
"App. first used of Mary Tudor, widow of Louis XII; then of Catherine of Arragon, styled 'Princess Dowager'" [OED]. In law, "a widow possessed of a jointure."