Pennsylvania Dutch ornamental bird design, by 1939, from German Distelfink "goldfinch," literally "thistle-finch," from Old High German distilvinko, from distil "thistle" (see thistle) + Old High German finco "finch" (see finch). The bird so called because it feeds on thistle seeds. Compare Old French chardonel "goldfinch," from chardon "thistle."
small finch-like Eurasian songbird, 1530s, from French linette "grain of flax," diminutive of lin "flax," from Latin linum "flax, linen thread" (see linen). Flaxseed forms much of the bird's diet. Old English name for the bird, linetwige, with second element perhaps meaning "to pluck," yielded Middle English and dialectal lintwhite. Also compare German Hänfling "linnet," from Hanf "hemp."
Middle English purpel, from Old English purpul, a dissimilation (first recorded in Northumbrian, in the Lindisfarne gospel) of purpure "purple dye, a purple garment," purpuren (adj.) "purple; dyed or colored purple," a borrowing by 9c. from Latin purpura "purple color, purple-dyed cloak, purple dye," also "shellfish from which purple was made," and "splendid attire generally." This is from Greek porphyra "purple dye, purple" (compare porphyry), a word of uncertain origin, perhaps Semitic, originally the name for the shellfish (murex) from which it was obtained. Purpur continued as a parallel form until 15c., and through 19c. in heraldry.
Attested from early 15c. as the name of the color formed by the mixture of blue and red (later from nearly violet-blue to not quite crimson; in the Middle Ages also applied to darker, richer reds). Tyrian purple (properly a crimson), produced around Tyre, was prized as dye for royal garments, hence the figurative use of purple for "imperial or regal power," by 1550s. Also the color of mourning or penitence (especially in royalty or clergy).
Rhetorical use in reference to "splendid, gaudy" (since mid-18c. typically of prose) is from 1590s. In U.S. politics, indicating an alternative to the increasing division of the country into red (Republican) and blue (Democratic), by 2004.
Purple Heart, the U.S. decoration for service members wounded in combat, was instituted 1932; originally it was a cloth decoration begun by George Washington in 1782. Hendrix' Purple Haze (1967) is slang for "LSD." Purple death "cheap Italian red wine" is by 1947. Purple finch, the common North American bird, was so called by 1760 in catalogues; "the name is a misnomer, arising from the faulty coloring of a plate by Mark Catesby, 1731" [Century Dictionary]. It also is called house finch, for its domesticity. Purple martin is from 1743.
"a small, light, round, spongy cake made with eggs," usually eaten buttered and toasted, 1703, moofin, possibly from Low German muffen, plural of muffe "small cake;" or somehow connected with Old French moflet "soft, tender" (said of bread). The historical distinction of the muffin from the crumpet is not entirely clear and the subject is involved. In American English the word was extended to a sort of cup-shaped bun or cake (often with blueberries, chocolate chips, etc.); hence muffin top "waistline bulge over tight, low jeans" (by 2005), from resemblance to baked muffins from a tin. Muffin-man "street seller of muffins" is attested by 1754.
Why sit we mute, while early Traders throng
To hail the Morning with the Voice of Song?
Why sit we sad, when Lamps so fast decline,
And, but for Fog and Smoke, the Sun would shine?
Hark! the shrill Muffin-Man his Carol plies,
And Milk's melodious Treble rends the Skies,
Spar'd from the Synagogue, the Cloathsman's Throat,
At measur'd Pause, attempers every Note,
And Chairs-to-mend! with all is heard to join
Its long majestic Trill, and Harmony divine.
["The Black Bird and the Bull-Finch," 1777]