Etymology
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counterpoint (n.1)
Origin and meaning of counterpoint

"quilted coverlet," late 15c., early 15c. in Anglo-French, from Old French (cuilte) contrepointe "(quilt) stitched through and through" (15c.), altered (by substitution of contre) from coute pointe, from Medieval Latin culcita puncta "quilted mattress," from Latin culcita "cushion" + puncta, fem. past participle of pungere "to prick, stab" (from suffixed form of PIE root *peuk- "to prick"). As a verb, "quilt by stitching together two pieces of cloth," from 1590s.

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counterpoint (n.2)
Origin and meaning of counterpoint

mid-15c., "art of singing an accompaniment to plain song," from Old French contrepoint, from Medieval Latin cantus contrapunctus, from contrapunctum, from Latin contra "against" (see contra (prep., adv.)) + puncta (see point (n.)). It is a reference to the indication of musical notes by "pricking" with a pointed pen over or under the original melody on a manuscript. Meaning "one or more melodies added, according to fixed rules, to a given melody or theme" is from 1520s.

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counterpoint (n.3)
Origin and meaning of counterpoint

"the opposite point" (in an argument), 1590s, from counter- + point (n.1). As a verb from 1940s.

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contrapuntal (adj.)

"pertaining to counterpoint or in accordance with its rules," 1815, with -al (1) + Italian contrapunto "counterpoint," also "backstitch," from contra "against" (see contra (prep., adv.)) + punto "point" (see point (n.)). Musical use is from Medieval Latin cantus contrapunctis. Compare counterpoint. Related: Contrapuntally.

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counterpane (n.)

"quilt, coverlet, outer covering of a bed," c. 1600, alteration of earlier counterpoynte (mid-15c.; see counterpoint (n.1)) by influence of French pan "section, piece," from Latin pannus "cloth" (see pane) "in allusion to the panes or squares of which bed covers are often composed" [Century Dictionary].

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prick (n.)

Middle English prikke, "pointed object, something that punctures or stabs; sting of an insect; a goad; a pin or fastener; a pricking as a bodily pain or torment," from Old English prica (n.) "sharp point, puncture; minute mark made by sticking or piercing; particle, very small portion of space or time," a common Low German word (compare Low German prik "point," Middle Dutch prick, Dutch prik, Swedish prick "point, dot") of unknown etymology (see prick (v.)).

Figurative sense of "a goad" (to the affections, the conscience, etc.) was in Middle English. The meaning "pointed weapon, dagger" is attested from 1550s. From the Old English sense of "dot or small mark made in writing" came the Middle English use, in music, "mark indicating pitch" (compare counterpoint (n.2)); hence prick-song (mid-15c.) "music sung from written notes" instead of from memory or by ear.

It had many entwined extended senses in Middle English and early modern English, such as "a point marking a stage in progression," especially in the prick "the highest point, apex, acme;" and from the notion of "a point in time," especially "the moment of death" (prike of deth).

The use in kick against the pricks (Acts ix.5, first in the translation of 1382) probably is from sense of "a goad for oxen" (mid-14c.), which made it a plausible translation of Latin stimulus: advorsum stimulum calces was proverbial in Latin, and the English phrase also was used literally. The notion in the image is "to balk, be recalcitrant, resist superior force." The noun also was used in the 1384 Wycliffe Bible in 2 Corinthians xii.7, where the Latin is stimulis carnis meæ:

And lest the greetnesse of reuelaciouns enhaunce me in pride, the pricke of my fleisch, an aungel of Sathanas, is ʒouun to me, the which boffatith me.

Earliest recorded slang use for "penis" is 1590s (Shakespeare puns upon it). The verb prick was used in a figurative sense "have sexual intercourse with" (a woman) in Chaucer (late 14c.). My prick was used 16c.-17c. as a term of endearment by "immodest maids" for their boyfriends. As a term of abuse to a man, it is attested by 1929. Prick-teaser is attested from 1958.  

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descant (v.)

mid-15c., discanten, "to run a variety with the voice in harmony with a musical theme, sing in counterpoint," from descant (n.). Sense of "to comment at length, make copious and varied comments" is attested by 1640s.

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descant (n.)

c. 1400, deschaunt, "a counterpoint added to a given melody," from Anglo-French deschaunt, Old French deschant, from Medieval Latin discantus "refrain, part-song," from Latin dis- "asunder, apart" (see dis-) + cantus "song, a singing; bird-song," from past participle stem of canere "to sing" (from PIE root *kan- "to sing").

The English spelling was partly Latinized in 16c., but it is an exception for its retention of des- in English. It is attested from 1560s in the sense of "the art of composing part-music," also "the upper part or voice." It is attested from 1570s as "a warbled song, a song with various modulations." The transferred sense of "a continued discourse or series of comments on a subject" is recorded from 1590s.

A metaphor taken from musick, where a simple air is made the subject of a composition, and a number of ornamented variations composed upon it. [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859]
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