early 15c., crise, crisis, "decisive point in the progress of a disease," also "vitally important or decisive state of things, point at which change must come, for better or worse," from Latinized form of Greek krisis "turning point in a disease, that change which indicates recovery or death" (used as such by Hippocrates and Galen), literally "judgment, result of a trial, selection," from krinein "to separate, decide, judge," from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish."
Transferred non-medical sense is 1620s in English. A German term for "mid-life crisis" is Torschlusspanik, literally "shut-door-panic," fear of being on the wrong side of a closing gate.
It forms all or part of: ascertain; certain; concern; concert; crime; criminal; crisis; critic; criterion; decree; diacritic; discern; disconcert; discreet; discriminate; endocrine; excrement; excrete; garble; hypocrisy; incertitude; recrement; recriminate; riddle (n.2) "coarse sieve;" secret; secretary.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek krinein "to separate, decide, judge," krinesthai "to explain;" Latin cribrum "sieve," crimen "judgment, crime," cernere "to sift, distinguish, separate;" Old Irish criathar, Old Welsh cruitr "sieve;" Middle Irish crich "border, boundary;" Old English hriddel "sieve."
c. 1300, "determined, fixed," from Old French certain "reliable, sure, assured" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *certanus, extended form of Latin certus "determined, resolved, fixed, settled," of things whose qualities are invariable, "established," also "placed beyond doubt, sure, true, proved; unerring, to be depended upon" (also source of Old French cert, Italian certo, Spanish cierto), originally a variant past participle of cernere "to distinguish, decide," literally "to sift, separate." This Latin verb comes from the PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish," which is also the source of Greek krisis "turning point, judgment, result of a trial" (compare crisis).
Transferred sense, in reference to persons, "full of confidence in one's knowledge or judgment, made certain in reference to a matter or thing," from mid-14c. (also a sense in Latin). Meaning "established as true beyond doubt" in English is from c. 1400. Meaning "indefinite, not specifically named, known but not described" is from late 14c.
Different as this seems to be from sense I, it is hardly separable from it in a large number of examples: thus, in [a certain hour], the hour was quite 'certain' or 'fixed', but it is not communicated to the reader; to him it remains, so far as his knowledge is concerned, quite indefinite; it may have been, as far as he knows, at any hour; though, as a fact, it was at a particular hour. [OED]
Lewis & Short write that Latin certus also was sometimes indefinite, "of things, the certainty of whose existence is given, but whose nature is not more definitely designated, or comes not into consideration ...."
Hence the euphemistic use, attested from mid-18c., as in woman of a certain age "an old maid;" woman of a certain description "disreputable woman;" in a certain condition "pregnant;" a certain disease "venereal disease;" of a certain weight "obese." Used with proper names from 1785, "often conveying a slight shade of disdain" [OED]. Certainer, certainest were common to c. 1750, but have fallen from proper use for some reason. Expression for certain "assuredly" is attested by early 14c.
said to be from Taino (Arawakan) Cubanacan, the name of the people who occupied the island. Related: Cuban (1829), hence Cuban heel (1908); Cuban Missile Crisis (October 16-28, 1962).
The Negro recognizes that he is a second-class citizen and that status is fraught with violent potentialities, particularly today when he is living up to the full responsibilities of citizenship on the field of battle. [Louis E. Martin, "To Be or Not to Be a Liberal," in The Crisis, September 1942]
1540s, "divorce" (of a woman by a man), from Latin repudiationem (nominative repudiatio) "a rejection, refusal," noun of action from past-participle stem of repudiare (see repudiate). Meaning "action of disowning" is by 1850; specifically as "disavowal of an obligation, as of a debt lawfully contracted," by 1843, often originally of U.S. states during the financial crisis of 1837-43.
1630s, "action of bringing two parties face to face," for examination and discovery of the truth, from Medieval Latin confrontationem (nominative confrontatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of confrontari, from assimilated form of Latin com "with, together" (see con-) + frontem (nominative frons) "forehead" (see front (n.)). International political sense is attested from 1963 and traces to the "Cuban missile crisis" of the previous year.
"I ain' gonna stay heah no longah. Don' nevah keer, ef I do git cotched—or die. Tha's bettah than to stay heah an' listen to Maw Haney sweet-talk the white folks, whilst they drives us clean to the grave. ..." [The Crisis, July 1935]
Latin had suaviloquens, literally "sweet-spoken."
"policy or process of making private as opposed to public," 1924, in reference to German economic policies in the crisis after World War I, from private (adj.) + -ization. Re-privatisation is attested by 1939.
Hugo Stinnes repeatedly demanded the privatization of the railroads, alleging that they could never function satisfactorily and profitably under bureaucratic administration. [United News article in Miami Herald, April 28, 1924]