Etymology
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commonwealth (n.)

mid-15c., commoun welthe, "a community, whole body of people in a state," from common (adj.) + wealth (n.). Specifically "state with a republican or democratic form of government" from 1610s. From 1550s as "any body of persons united by some common interest." Applied specifically to the government of England in the period 1649-1660, and later to self-governing former colonies under the British crown (1917). In the U.S., it forms a part of the official name of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico but has no special significance.

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commonweal (n.)

mid-14c., comen wele, "a commonwealth or its people;" mid-15c., comune wele, "the public good, the general welfare of the nation or community;" see common (adj.) + weal (n.1).

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common (n.)
Origin and meaning of common

c. 1300, "a fellowship or brotherhood; early 14c., "people of a community or town, freemen, citizenry;" late 15c., "land held in common," from Old French commune and Medieval Latin communia, and partly from common (adj.). Also compare commons. Latin communis "common, general" (adj.) also served as a noun meaning "common property; state, commonwealth."

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protector (n.)

late 14c., protectour, "a defender, guardian, one who defends or shields from injury or evil," from Old French protector (14c., Modern French protecteur) and directly from Late Latin protector, agent noun from protegere (see protection). Related: Protectoral; protectorial; protectorian. Fem. forms protectrix, protectryse both attested from mid-15c. Protectee is attested from c. 1600.

In English history, "one who has care of the kingdom during the king's minority or incapacity, a regent" (as the Duke of Somerset during the reign of Edward VI); Lord Protector was the title of the head of the executive during part of the period of the Commonwealth, held by Oliver Cromwell (1653-58) and Richard Cromwell (1658-59).

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republic (n.)

"state in which supreme or executive power rests in the people via representatives chosen by citizens entitled to vote," c. 1600, from French république (15c.), from Latin respublica (ablative republica) "the common weal, a commonwealth, state, republic," literally res publica "public interest, the state," from res "affair, matter, thing" (see re) + publica, fem. of publicus "public" (see public (adj.)).

Applied to particular states so constituted by 1630s. The notion of "community in which there is a certain equality of members" is behind such expressions as republic of letters "collective body of those engaged in literary pursuits," attested from 1702.

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republican (n.)

"one who favors a republican form of government or republican principles" (or, as Johnson puts it, "One who thinks a commonwealth without monarchy the best government"), 1690s; see republican (adj.).

With capital R-, in reference to a member of a specific U.S. political party (the Anti-Federalists) from 1782, though this was not the ancestor of the modern U.S. Republican Party, which dates from 1854. In between, National Republicans was a name of the party that opposed Jackson and rallied behind John Quincy Adams in late 1820s.

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bond (adj.)
c. 1300, "in a state of a serf, unfree," from bond (n.) "tenant, farmer holding land under a lord in return for customary service; a married bond as head of a household" (mid-13c.). The Old English form was bonda, bunda "husbandman, householder," but the Middle English word probably is from Old Norse *bonda, a contraction of boande, buande "occupier and tiller of soil, peasant, husbandman," a noun from the past participle of bua, boa "to dwell" (from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow").

"In the more despotic Norway and Denmark, bo'ndi became a word of contempt, denoting the common low people. ... In the Icelandic Commonwealth the word has a good sense, and is often used of the foremost men ...." [OED]. The sense of the noun deteriorated in English after the Conquest and the rise of the feudal system, from "free farmer" to "serf, slave" (c. 1300) and the word became associated with unrelated bond (n.) and bound (adj.1).
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previous (adj.)

"going before in time, being or occurring before something else," 1620s, from Latin praevius "going before," from prae "before" (see pre-) + via "road" (see via). Related: Previously.

In parliamentary practice, previous question is the question whether a vote shall be taken on the main issue or not, brought forward before the main question is put by the Speaker.

The great remedy against prolix or obstructive debate is the so called previous question, which is moved in the form, "Shall the main question be now put?" and when ordered closes forthwith all debate, and brings the House to a direct vote on that main question. ... Closure by previous question, first established in 1811, is in daily use, and is considered so essential to the progress of business that I never found any member or official willing to dispense with it. Even the senators, who object to its introduction into their own much smaller chamber, agree that it must exist in a large body like the House. [James Bryce, "The American Commonwealth," vol. I., 1893]
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civil (adj.)

late 14c., "relating to civil law or life; pertaining to the internal affairs of a state," from Old French civil "civil, relating to civil law" (13c.) and directly from Latin civilis "relating to a society, pertaining to public life, relating to the civic order, befitting a citizen," hence by extension "popular, affable, courteous;" alternative adjectival derivative of civis "townsman" (see city).

Meaning "not barbarous, civilized" is from 1550s. Specifically "relating to the commonwealth as secularly organized" (as opposed to military or ecclesiastical) by 1610s. Meaning "relating to the citizen in his relation to the commonwealth or to fellow citizens" also is from 1610s.

The word civil has about twelve different meanings; it is applied to all manner of objects, which are perfectly disparate. As opposed to criminal, it means all law not criminal. As opposed to ecclesiastical, it means all law not ecclesiastical: as opposed to military, it means all law not military, and so on. [John Austin, "Lectures on Jurisprudence," 1873]

The sense of "polite" was in classical Latin, but English did not pick up this nuance of the word until late 16c., and it has tended to descend in meaning to "meeting minimum standards of courtesy." "Courteous is thus more commonly said of superiors, civil of inferiors, since it implies or suggests the possibility of incivility or rudeness" [OED].

Civil, literally, applies to one who fulfills the duty of a citizen; It may mean simply not rude, or observant of the external courtesies of intercourse, or quick to do and say gratifying and complimentary things. ...  Courteous, literally, expresses that style of politeness which belongs to courts: a courteous man is one who is gracefully respectful in his address and manner — one who exhibits a union of dignified complaisance and kindness. The word applies to all sincere kindness and attention. [Century Dictionary, 1895]

Civil case (as opposed to criminal) is recorded from 1610s. Civil liberty "natural liberty restrained by law only so far as is necessary for the public good" is by 1640s.

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empire (n.)

mid-14c., "territory subject to an emperor's rule;" in general "realm, dominion;" late 14c. as "authority of an emperor, supreme power in governing; imperial power," in Middle English generally of the Roman Empire.

From Old French empire "rule, authority, kingdom, imperial rule" (11c.), from Latin imperium "a rule, a command; authority, control, power; supreme power, sole dominion; military authority; a dominion, realm," from imperare "to command," from assimilated form of in- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + parare "to order, prepare" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure").

Not etymologically restricted to "territory ruled by an emperor," but used that way. The Empire, meaning "the British Empire," first recorded 1772 (it officially devolved into "The Commonwealth" in 1931); before that it meant the Holy Roman Empire (1670s).

[P]roperly an empire is an aggregate of conquered, colonized, or confederated states, each with its own government subordinate or tributary to that of the empire as a whole. [Century Dictionary] 

Empire as the name of a style (especially in reference to a style of dresses with high waistlines) is by 1860, in reference to the affected classicism prevailing in France during the reign of Napoleon I (1804-15). Second Empire is in reference to the rule of Napoleon III of France (1852-70). New York has been called the Empire State since 1834.

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