"final result, central or salient point," 1832, a figurative use from profit-and-loss accounting, where the final figure calculated is the bottom line on the page. Also (especially as an adjective) bottom-line, bottomline.
c. 1600, "peculiar person, person of a type seldom encountered," from Latin rara avis, literally "strange bird," from rara, fem. of rarus "rare" (see rare (adj.1)) + avis "bird" (see aviary). Latin plural is raræ aves. A phrase used of Horace's peacock (a Roman delicacy), Juvenal's black swan ("Rara avis in terris, nigroque simillima cygno"). A figure perhaps natural to the superstitious Romans, who divined by bird-watching.
In the American English sense of "person liberally and excessively sympathetic" (especially toward those the speaker or writer deems not to deserve it) is attested by 1936 in the work of popular conservative newspaper columnist Westbrook Pegler (1894-1969), who first used it in reference to his own feelings about the Republican Party but by 1938 regularly deployed it against the Roosevelt administration and also as a modifier (bleeding-heart liberal) in his "Fair Enough" column:
And I question the humanitarianism of any professional or semi-pro bleeding heart who clamors that not a single person must be allowed to hunger, but would stall the entire legislative program in a fight to jam through a law intended, at the most optimistic figure, to save 14 lives a year. ["Fair Enough," in Freemont (Ohio) Messenger, Jan. 8, 1938]
Bleeding in a figurative sense of "generous" is attested from late 16c., and the notion of one's heart bleeding as a figure of emotional anguish is from late 14c.; the exact image here may be the "bleeding heart of Jesus."
1816, in the figurative sense of "icy reception, studied neglect or indifference," first in Sir Walter Scott, probably originally a literal figure (see cold (adj.)), but commonly used with a punning reference to "cold shoulder of mutton," considered a poor man's dish and thus, perhaps, something one would set out for an unwanted guest with deliberate intention to convey displeasure.
How often have we admired the poor knight, who, to avoid the snares of bribery and dependence, was found making a second dinner from a cold shoulder of mutton, above the most affluent courtier, who had sold himself to others for a splendid pension! ["No Fiction," 1820]
Formerly the literal figure was felt as associated with the image of the figurative "stubborn shoulder" in Nehemiah ix.29 (translating Latin humerum recedentum dare in Vulgate).
Originally with to show, later to give. As a verb from 1845; related: cold-shouldered. Also compare cold roast, old slang for "something insignificant." Cold pig was a 19c. term for throwing cold water on a sleeping person to wake him or her.
by 1950, sometimes also cloud seven (1956, perhaps by confusion with seventh heaven), American English, of uncertain origin or significance. Some connect the phrase with the 1895 International Cloud-Atlas (Hildebrandsson, Riggenbach and Teisserenc de Bort), long the basic source for cloud shapes, in which, of the ten cloud types, cloud No. 9, cumulonimbus, was the biggest, puffiest, most comfortable-looking. Shipley suggests the sense in this and other expressions might be because, "As the largest one-figure integer, nine is sometimes used for emphasis." The phrase might appear in the 1935 aviation-based play "Ceiling Zero" by Frank Wilbur Wead.
"a remedy which is very effective, almost magical;" see silver (adj.) + bullet (n.). The belief in the magical power of silver weapons to conquer foes goes back at least to ancient Greece (as in Delphic Oracle's advice to Philip of Macedon). In Britain, silver bullets as a superstitious countercharm figure in the fictitious Popish Plot (1678).
'Cause champed silver kills stone-dead
Such as are musket-proof 'gainst lead.
[Thomas Ward, from "England's Reformation," 1710]
English folklore beliefs recorded from early 19c. held that a witch could be wounded or revealed (if transformed) only by a wound from a silver bullet. Similar fancies are reported in folk-tales from Ireland and Iceland. The belief in the killing efficacy of silver bullets was transferred to vampires by 1816.
1824; said to have been given as a toast by Sir William Curtis (1752-1829), a beloved lord mayor of London in the 1820s, who seems to have been a figure of fun to whom many mangled phrases were attributed. Among the toasts he is alleged to have given at public dinners were "The Female Ladies of London;" "The three C's—Cox, King, and Curtis;" and "The three R's—Reading, Writing, and Rithmetic."
It has been very much the fashion amongst a class of persons to attribute to Sir W. C. ... a vulgarity and ignorance of speech which are by no means consistent with his character and conduct. The worthy and hospitable baronet has a rapid mode of speech, but it is always correct ; and although some eccentricities are mixed up in his composition, he is highly honourable, and has been a very useful member of society, particularly to his London constituents. [The Mirror, Jan. 29, 1825]
After listing some examples, the article continues:
It is, however, very certain, that at a city festival some years ago, having indulged very freely, he fell asleep, when some wag, choosing to consider him dead, wrote his epitaph, which was found next morning pinned to the baronet's dress coat:—
"Here lies the great Curtis,
Of London, Lord May'r:
He's left this here world,
And gone to that there."