Etymology
Advertisement
Jonah 
masc. proper name, biblical prophet and subject of the Book of Jonah, from Hebrew Yonah, literally "dove, pigeon." In nautical use (and extended) "person on shipboard regarded as the cause of bad luck" (Jonah 1.v-xvi).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
Humphrey 
masc. proper name, from Old English Hunfrið, probably from Proto-Germanic *hun "strength" + Old English frið "peace." To dine with Duke Humphrey (17c.) meant to go without a meal, though the reason for the expression now is obscure.
Related entries & more 
Chicago (n.)

town founded in 1833, named from a Canadian French form of an Algonquian word, which, according to Bright, is either Fox /sheka:ko:heki/ "place of the wild onion," or Ojibwa shika:konk "at the skunk place" (sometimes rendered "place of the bad smell"). The Ojibwa "skunk" word is distantly related to the New England Algonquian word that yielded Modern English skunk (n.). Related: Chicagoan (1847; Chicagoian is from 1859).

Related entries & more 
Job 
Biblical masc. proper name, name of an ancient patriarch whose story forms a book of the Old Testament, from Hebrew Iyyobh, which according to some scholars is literally "hated, persecuted," from ayyabh "he was hostile to," related to ebhah "enmity." Others say it means "the penitent one." Figurative of bad news, destitution, and patient endurance. Hence Job's comforter, of one who brings news of additional misfortune (1736).
Related entries & more 
Mstislav 
Slavic masc. proper name, literally "vengeful fame," from Russian mstit' "to take revenge," from Proto-Slavic *misti "revenge," *mistiti "to take revenge," from PIE *mit-ti-, extended form of root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move;" for second element, see Slav.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
Macbeth 

masc. proper name, Gaelic, literally "son of life." The first reference to bad luck associated with Shakespeare's "Macbeth," and to avoidance of naming it, is from 1896, alludes to an incident of 1885, and says the tradition goes back "so far as modern memory can recall." The original superstition seems to have pertained particularly to the witches' scenes, which were played up dramatically in 19c. productions, and especially to Matthew Locke's 17c. music to accompany the witches' song, which was regularly played through the 19th century.

It is strange how the effect of this music has exerted such a long surviving influence on members of the dramatic profession. It is still considered most unlucky to sing, hum, or whistle the witch airs in the theatre except in the ways of business. [Young-Stewart, "The Three Witches," in The Shakespearean, Sept. 15, 1896]
If you number an actor or actress among your friends, and desire to retain his or her friendship, there are three things you positively must not do, especially if the actor is of the old school. Do not whistle in the theatre, do not look over his shoulder into the glass while he is making up, and do not hum the witch's song from "Macbeth." ... [O]lder actors would almost prefer to lose their salary than go on in "Macbeth" on account of this song. They believe that it casts spells upon the members of the company. ["Some Odd Superstitions of the Stage," Theatre magazine, July 1909]
Related entries & more 
Greenland 

translating Old Norse Groenland, so named by its discoverer (986 C.E.) because "it would induce settlers to go there, if the land had a good name":

Hann gaf nafn landinu ok kallaði Groenland, ok kvað menn þat myndu fysa þangat farar, at landit ætti nafn gott. [Islendingabok, 1122-1133]

See green (adj.) + land (n.). Related: Greenlander; Greenlandish.

Related entries & more 
Dumpster (n.)

1930s, from Dempster-Dumpster trash-hauling mechanism, patented by Dempster Brothers and probably named from dump (v.) with the surname in mind. Dumpster diving attested from 1979. Dumpster fire, in figurative reference to a situation that is calamitous, foul, and unfixable (and possibly not worth the trouble of attempting to fix) or a person perceived as a walking cascade of failures and bad decisions, emerged into popularity in 2015, in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The surname (late 13c.) is a fem. form (but, like Baxter, probably used also of men) of Deemer, a North of England and Manx term for "a judge;" see deem (v.).

Related entries & more 
Goldilocks (n.)
name for a person with bright yellow hair, 1540s, from goldy (adj.) "of a golden color" (mid-15c., from gold (n.)) + plural of lock (n.2). The story of the Three Bears first was printed in Robert Southey's miscellany "The Doctor" (1837), but the central figure there was a bad-tempered old woman. Southey did not claim to have invented the story, and older versions have been traced, either involving an old woman or a "silver-haired" girl (though in at least one version it is a fox who enters the house). The identification of the girl as Goldilocks is attested from c. 1875. Goldylocks also is attested from 1570s as a name for the buttercup.
Related entries & more 
Gradus ad Parnassum (n.)

Latin, literally "A Step to Parnassus," the mountain sacred to Apollo and the Muses; from Latin gradus "a step; a step climbed; a step toward something" (from PIE root *ghredh- "to walk, go"). Also see Parnassus. It was the title of a dictionary of prosody used in English public schools for centuries as a guide to Roman poetry. The book dates from the 1680s. Also the name of a treatise on musical composition written in Latin by Johann Joseph Fux, published in Vienna in 1725, and of a much-used book of exercises for piano.

Related entries & more