as an intensive execration, "odious, detestable, damned," 1650s, past-participle adjective from confound in its older sense of "condemn, curse," which came to be considered "a milder form of imprecation" [OED]. It is perhaps a euphemism for damned. The sense of "put to mental confusion" is recorded from mid-14c.
"perplexed, puzzled, confounded," c. 1600, past-participle adjective from nonplus, which is from Latin non plus "no more, no further."
"troublesome, annoying," 1775, originally in New England dialect, perhaps a dialectal formation from pest (OED compares plaguy "confounded, annoying, disagreeable"). Partridge suggests an origin in Essex dialect. Sometimes in American-English colloquial use a mere intensive, "excessively." Related: Peskily.
1540s, "mentally slow, lacking ordinary activity of mind, dull, inane," from French stupide (16c.) and directly from Latin stupidus "amazed, confounded; dull, foolish," literally "struck senseless," from stupere "be stunned, amazed, confounded," from PIE *stupe- "hit," from root *(s)teu- (1) "to push, stick, knock, beat" (see steep (adj.)). Related: Stupidly; stupidness.
Native words for this idea include negative compounds with words for "wise" (Old English unwis, unsnotor, ungleaw), also dol (see dull (adj.)), and dysig (see dizzy (adj.)). Stupid retained its association with stupor and its overtones of "stunned by surprise, grief, etc." into mid-18c. The difference between stupid and the less opprobrious foolish roughly parallels that of German töricht vs. dumm but does not exist in most European languages.
c. 1500, "weight, dignity, seriousness, solemnity of deportment or character, importance," from Old French gravité "seriousness, thoughtfulness" (13c.) and directly from Latin gravitatem (nominative gravitas) "weight, heaviness, pressure," from gravis "heavy" (from PIE root *gwere- (1) "heavy"). The scientific sense of "downward acceleration of terrestrial bodies due to gravitation of the Earth" first recorded 1620s.
The words gravity and gravitation have been more or less confounded; but the most careful writers use gravitation for the attracting force, and gravity for the terrestrial phenomenon of weight or downward acceleration which has for its two components the gravitation and the centrifugal force. [Century Dictionary, 1902]
1570s, from French catapulte and directly from Latin catapulta "war machine for throwing," from Greek katapeltes, from kata "against" in reference to walls, or perhaps "through" in reference to armor (see cata-) + base of pallein "to toss, hurl" (from PIE root *pel- (5) "to thrust, strike, drive"). In ancient times a Roman military engine for throwing huge darts.
Its construction is nowhere explained with any fullness, and it is uncertain whether its action was that of a crossbow or whether springs were the propelling power. By later authors the catapult and ballista seem to be confounded. In the middle ages the name is hardly used, except where a writer is evidently seeking to give a classical form to his composition. [Century Dictionary]
As an airplane-launching device on an aircraft-carrier by 1927.
"a trench made by digging," especially a trench for draining wet land," Middle English diche, from Old English dic "ditch, dike," a variant of dike (q.v.), which at first meant "an excavation," but later in Middle English was applied to the ridge or bank of earth thrown up in excavating. Middle English diche also could mean "a defensive wall."
As the earth dug out of the ground in making a trench is heaped up on the side, the ditch and the bank are constructed by the same act, and it is not surprising that the two should have been confounded under a common name. [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859]
Ditch-water "stale or stagnant water that collects in ditches" is from mid-14c. In Middle English, digne as dich water (late 14c.) meant "foolishly proud." Also see last-ditch.
type of arachnid inhabiting warm regions, notable for its large "nippers" and the painful sting in its tail, c. 1200,scorpioun, perhaps late Old English, from Old French scorpion (12c.), from Latin scorpionem (nominative scorpio), extended form of scorpius, from Greek skorpios "a scorpion" (from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut"). The Spanish alacran "scorpion" is from Arabic al-'aqrab. Symbolic in Middle English of a treacherous person. As the zodiac sign by late 14c. Related: Scorpioid.
Centipeds and tarantulas are often confounded in the popular mind with scorpions, as are also various small lizards, in the latter case probably from the habit some of them have of carrying their tails up. Thus, in the United States, some harmless lizards or skinks, as of the genera Sceloporus and Eumeces, are commonly called scorpions. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
1610s, "unconcerned" (the sense that now would go with uninterested), from dis- "opposite of" + interested. The sense of "impartial" originally was in disinteressed (c. 1600), from Old French desinteresse, and subsequently passed to uninterested. The modern sense of disinterested, "impartial, free from self-interest or personal bias, acting from unselfish motives," is attested by 1650s.
By late 18c. the words had sorted themselves out, and as things now stand, disinterested means "impartial," uninterested means "caring nothing for the matter in question," and disinteressed has fallen by the wayside. Related: Disinterestedly; disinterestedness.
Disinterested and uninterested are sometimes confounded in speech, though rarely in writing. A disinterested person takes part in or concerns himself about the affairs of others without regard to self interest, or to any personal benefit to be gained by his action; an uninterested one takes no interest in or is indifferent to the matter under consideration .... [Century Dictionary]