legendary Greek sculptor/goldsmith who created a beautiful statue of a woman he made and wished to life, from Greek Pygmaliōn. The story is centered on Cyprus and his name might be a Greek folk-etymology adaptation of a foreign word, perhaps from Phoenician. Notable in 20c. for the Pygmalion word, a British euphemistic substitute for bloody, from the notorious use of that word in Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" (1913: "Walk? Not bloody likely!"), the basis of the 1964 movie "My Fair Lady."
For as her natural face decays, her skill improves in making the artificial one. Well, nothing diverts me more than one of those fine, old, dressy things, who thinks to conceal her age by everywhere exposing her person; sticking herself up in the front of a side-box; trailing through a minuet at Almack's; and then, in the public gardens looking, for all the world, like one of the painted ruins of the place. [Goldsmith, "The Good Natured Man," 1768]
city in California, named c. 1866 for George Berkeley (1685-1753), Bishop of Cloyne, who denied the objective reality of the material world. The college there opened in 1873. The surname (also Barclay) is the birch-tree wood or clearing. The transuranic element berkelium (1950) is named for the laboratory there, where it was discovered. It does not occur naturally.
Whether they knew or not
Goldsmith and Burke, Swift and the Bishop of Cloyne
All hated Whiggery; but what is Whiggery?
A levelling, rancorous, rational sort of mind
That never looked out of the eye of a saint
Or out of drunkard's eye.
[Yeats, from "The Seven Sages"]
"type of thin, transparent fabric," c. 1600; earlier a common name for the festival of the Epiphany (early 14c.; in Anglo-French from late 13c.), from Old French Tifinie, Tiphanie "Epiphany" (c. 1200), from Late Latin Theophania "Theophany," another name for the Epiphany, from Greek theophania "the manifestation of a god" (see theophany).
Also popular in Old French and Middle English as a name given to girls born on Epiphany Day. The fabric sense is found only in English and is of obscure origin and uncertain relation to the other meanings, unless "holiday silk" or as a fanciful or playful allusion to "manifestation:"
The invention of that fine silke, Tiffanie, Sarcenet, and Cypres, which instead of apparell to cover and hide, shew women naked through them. [Holland's "Pliny," 1601]
The fashionable N.Y. jewelry firm Tiffany & Co. (1895) is named for its founder, goldsmith Charles L. Tiffany (1812-1902) and his son, Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933), who was the art nouveau decorator noted for his glassware. The surname is attested in English from 1206.
Old English spon "chip, sliver, shaving, splinter of wood," from Proto-Germanic *spe-nu- (source also of Old Norse spann, sponn "chip, splinter," Swedish spån "a wooden spoon," Old Frisian spon, Middle Dutch spaen, Dutch spaan, Old High German span, German Span "chip, splinter"), from PIE *spe- (2) "long, flat piece of wood" (source also of Greek spathe "spade," also possibly Greek sphen "wedge").
As the word for a type of eating utensil, c. 1300 in English (in Old English such a thing might be a metesticca), in this sense supposed to be from Old Norse sponn, which meant "spoon" as well as "chip, tile." The "eating utensil" sense is specific to Middle English and Scandinavian, though Middle Low German spon also meant "wooden spatula." To be born with a silver spoon in one's mouth is from at least 1719 (Goldsmith, 1765, has: "one man is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and another with a wooden ladle").