1610s, "discussion, debate" (a sense now obsolete), from Late Latin dissertationem (nominative dissertatio) "discourse," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin dissertare "debate, argue, examine, harangue," frequentative of disserere "discuss, examine," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + serere "to join together, put in a row, arrange (words)," from PIE root *ser- (2) "to line up."
Sense of "formal, written treatise" is from 1650s. Meaning "research paper required as a final project for a Ph.D or other doctoral degree" is attested by 1877 in reference to continental universities; it was in use in the U.S. by 1890. Related: Dissertational. There is no regular verb to go with it: Dissert (1620s, from French disserter, from Latin dissertare) is obsolete, and dissertate (1766) is marked "Unusual" in OED.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to line up."
It forms all or part of: assert; assertion; assort; consort; desert (v.) "to leave one's duty;" desertion; dissertation; ensorcell; exert; exsert; insert; seriatim; seriation; series; sermon; serried; sorcerer; sorcery; sort.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit sarat- "thread;" Greek eirein "to fasten together in rows;" Latin serere "to join, link, bind together," series "row, chain, series, sequence, succession;" Gothic sarwa (plural) "armor, arms;" Old Norse sörve "necklace of stringed pearls;" Old Irish sernaid "he joins together;" Welsh ystret "a row."
c. 1600, "subject for investigation" (a sense now obsolete), also "systematic search, formal inquiry into some problem or topic," from Latin disquisitionem (nominative disquisitio) "an inquiry, investigation," noun of action from past-participle stem of disquirere "inquire," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + quaerere "seek, ask" (see query (n.)). Sense of "a long speech, a formal dissertation" first recorded 1640s. Related: Disquisitional.
"morbid and uncontrollable sexual desire in women," 1775, in English translation of "Nymphomania, or a Dissertation Concerning the Furor Uterinus" (1771) by French doctor Jean Baptiste Louis de Thesacq de Bienville (1726-1813), coined from Greek nymphē "bride, young wife, young lady" (see nymph) + mania "madness" (see mania). Perhaps influenced by earlier French nymphomanie. Defined as "a female disease characterized by morbid and uncontrollable sexual desire." Compare also nympholepsy.
1640s (in Latin form in English from 1580s), "continued discourse, critical dissertation" (senses now archaic), from French diatribe (15c.) and directly from Latin diatriba "learned discussion," from Greek diatribe "employment, study," in Plato, "discourse," literally "a wearing away (of time), a waste of time," from dia "away" (see dia-) + tribein "to wear, rub," from PIE root *tere- (1) "to rub, turn." For sense evolution, compare school (n.1).
The modern meaning "a strain of invective, a bitter and violent criticism" by 1804, apparently from French.
"standing detached from others of its kind," 1740, a rendering into English of French isolé "isolated" (17c.), from Italian isolato, from Latin insulatus "made into an island," from insula "island" (see isle (n.)). English at first used the French word (isole, also isole'd, c. 1750), then after isolate (v.) became an English word, isolated became its past participle.
[F]or I think it very natural to suppose, that all the People of this isolated Country, (I ask Pardon for a foreign Word) should have one Language ... ["An Irregular Dissertation Occasioned by the Reading of Father Du Halde's Description of China," 1740]
mid-14c., "material consisting of a compacted web or felting of vegetable fibers, commonly as a thin, flexible sheet for writing, printing, etc.," from Anglo-French paper, Old French papier "paper, document," and directly from Latin papyrus "paper, paper made of papyrus stalks," from Greek papyros "any plant of the paper plant genus," a loan-word of unknown origin, often said to be Egyptian (see papyrus).
Sense of "essay, dissertation on a topic" is from 1660s. Meaning "bills of exchange, paper money" is attested by 1722. As "paper for covering the walls of interiors," 1764. As "printed sheet of news" (a shortened form of newspaper), attested by 1640s. Papers, "collection of documents which establish one's identity, standing, credentials, etc.," it is attested from 1680s.
Paper-clip is by 1875; paper-cutter as a type of machine is by 1969. Paper-hanger is by 1796. Paper-wasp " type of wasp that builds a nest out of paper-like material" is by 1805. Paper chase is by 1856 in British English for the game of hare-and-hounds, from the bits of paper scattered as "scent" by the "hares;" the slang meaning "effort to earn a diploma or college degree" is by 1932.
1726, "morbid longing to return to one's home or native country, severe homesickness considered as a disease," Modern Latin, coined 1688 in a dissertation on the topic at the University of Basel by scholar Johannes Hofer (1669-1752) as a rendering of German heimweh "homesickness" (for which see home + woe).
From Greek algos "pain, grief, distress" (see -algia) + nostos "homecoming," from neomai "to reach some place, escape, return, get home," from PIE *nes- "to return safely home" (cognate with Old Norse nest "food for a journey," Sanskrit nasate "approaches, joins," German genesen "to recover," Gothic ganisan "to heal," Old English genesen "to recover"). French nostalgie is in French army medical manuals by 1754.
Originally in reference to the Swiss and said to be peculiar to them and often fatal, whether by its own action or in combination with wounds or disease.
[Dr. Scheuzer] had said that the air enclosed in the bodies of his countrymen, being in Æquilibrium with a rare and light air that surrounds them, was overloaded in lower countries with an air more dense and heavier, which compressing and obstructing the capillary vessels, makes the circulation slow and difficult, and occasions many sad symptoms. [Account of the publication of "Areographia Helvetiæ" in New Memoirs of Literature, London, March 1726]
By 1830s the word was used of any intense homesickness: that of sailors, convicts, African slaves. "The bagpipes produced the same effects sometimes in the Scotch regiments while serving abroad" [Penny Magazine," Nov. 14, 1840]. It is listed among the "endemic diseases" in the "Cyclopaedia of Practical Medicine" [London, 1833, edited by three M.D.s], which defines it as "The concourse of depressing symptoms which sometimes arise in persons who are absent from their native country, when they are seized with a longing desire of returning to their home and friends and the scenes their youth ...."
It was a military medical diagnosis principally, and was considered a serious medical problem by the North in the American Civil War:
In the first two years of the war, there were reported 2588 cases of nostalgia, and 13 deaths from this cause. These numbers scarcely express the real extent to which nostalgia influenced the sickness and mortality of the army. To the depressing influence of home-sickness must be attributed the fatal result in many cases which might otherwise have terminated favorably. ["Sanitary Memoirs of the War," U.S. Sanitary Commission, N.Y.: 1867]
Transferred sense (the main modern one) of "wistful yearning for the past" is recorded by 1920, perhaps from such use of nostalgie in French literature. The longing for a distant place also necessarily involves a separation in time.