month following January, late 14c., ultimately from Latin februarius mensis "month of purification," from februare "to purify," from februa "purifications, expiatory rites" (plural of februum "means of purification, expiatory offerings"), which is of uncertain origin, said to be a Sabine word. De Vaan says from Proto-Italic *f(w)esro-, from a PIE word meaning "the smoking" or "the burning" (thus possibly connected with fume (n.)). The sense then could be either purification by smoke or a burnt offering.
The last month of the ancient (pre-450 B.C.E.) Roman calendar, so named in reference to the Roman feast of purification, held on the ides of the month. The Old English name for it was solmonað, which is said to mean "mud month." English first borrowed the Roman name from Old French Feverier, which yielded Middle English Feverer, Feoverel, etc. (c. 1200) before the 14c. respelling to conform to Latin.
c. 1200, "a day as reckoned back from the first of the following month" (as fourteenth calend of March = February 16th), from Latin kalendae "first day of the month" in the Roman calendar (see calendar). It is attested in English from mid-14c. as "the first day of the month," and from late 14c. as the beginning of anything.
"informal session of folk musicians," 1940, American English, earlier "a gadget" (1927), of unknown origin, perhaps a nonsense word.
Another device used by the professional car thief, and one recently developed to perfection, according to a large Chicago lock-testing laboratory, is a "hootenanny," so-called by the criminals using it. [Popular Mechanics, February 1931]
surname, from Irish riagan, literally "little king." Often in reference to Ronald W. Reagan (1911-2004), U.S. governor of California 1967-75, U.S. president 1981-89. Reaganism "policies and principles of Reagan and his supporters" is by 1966 in a California context. Reaganomics, "economic policies of U.S. President Ronald Reagan," is attested by February 1981.
1690s, "offensive, giving offense," present-participle adjective from shock (v.1). It is attested by 1704 in a stronger sense of "causing a jolt of indignation, horror, etc." By 1798 as "deplorably bad, so bad as to be shocking." Related: Shockingly. In fashion, shocking pink was the name of a color introduced February 1937 by Italian-born designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
1892 (n.) "an adherent of populism," also (with capital P-), "a member of the Populist Party;" 1893 (adj.); American English, from Latin populus "people" (see people (n.)) + -ist. Originally in reference to the U.S. Populist Party (or People's Party), organized February 1892 to promote certain issues important to farmers and workers (expansion of the currency, state control of railways, and restriction on the ownership of land). The term outlasted the party, and by 1920s came to mean "representing the views of the masses" in a general way, and from the 1950s as "anti-establishment" on either the left or the right.
1580s (n.); 1590s (adj.), in reference to Roman leap year, from Late Latin (annus) bisextilis "leap year," more literally "the twice sixth-day, (a year) containing a second sixth (day)." To keep the Julian calendar consistent with the sun, the sixth day (by inclusive reckoning) before the Calends of March was doubled every four years. The date corresponds to our February 24th. From Latin bissextus/bisextis (dies), from bis "twice" (see bis-) + sextus "sixth (day before the First of March)," from sex "six" (see six).
1872, trademark for an ointment made from petroleum and marketed by Chesebrough Manufacturing Co., coined from German Wasser "water" + Greek elaion "oil" + scientific-sounded ending -ine. Robert A. Chesebrough was of the opinion that petroleum was a product of the underground decomposition of water.
The name is of mixed origin, being derived from Wasser, water, and elaion [Greek in the original], oil (water-oil), and indicates the belief of the discoverer that petroleum, the mother of Vaseline, is produced by the agency of heat and pressure from the carbon of certain rocks, and the hydrogen of water. [The Monthly Review of Dental Surgery, February 1877]
[self-propelling projectile] 1610s, "projectile consisting of a cylindrical tube of pasteboard filled with flammable or explosive matter," from Italian rocchetto "a rocket," literally "a bobbin," diminutive of rocca "a distaff," so called because of cylindrical shape. The Italian word probably is from a Germanic source (compare Old High German rocko "distaff," Middle Dutch rokke, Old Norse rokkr), from Proto-Germanic *rukkon- (from PIE root *rug- "fabric, spun yarn").
Originally of fireworks rockets, the meaning "device propelled by a rocket engine" is recorded by 1919 (Goddard); rocket-ship in the space-travel sense is attested from February 1927 ("Popular Science"); earlier as a type of naval warship firing projectiles. Rocket science in the figurative sense of "difficult, complex process or topic" is attested by 1985; rocket scientist is from 1952.
That such a feat is considered within the range of possibility is evidenced by the activities of scientists in Europe as well as in America. Two of them, Prof. Herman Oberth and Dr. Franz Hoeff, of Vienna, are constructing a five-ton rocket ship in which they hope to reach the moon in two days. [Popular Science, February 1927]
1853 in a political sense, "remove (a place) from colonial status," American English, from de- + colonization. Earlier as a medical term (from colon (n.2)).
The great occupation of the nations of western Europe, from the beginning of the fifteenth century to near the close of the eighteenth century, was colonization and the establishment of empire on the American continent. The year 1775 witnessed the opening of the first act in the great drama of the decolonization of this continent, the end of which is not yet. [Speech of Hon. W.H. Seward of New York in the Senate, February 8, 1853, in Appendix to the Congressional Globe, 2nd Session, 32nd Congress]