one of the Old Testament people of coastal Palestine who made war on the Israelites, early 14c., from Old French Philistin, from Late Latin Philistinus, from Late Greek Philistinoi (plural), from Hebrew P'lishtim, "people of P'lesheth" ("Philistia"); compare Akkadian Palastu, Egyptian Palusata; the word probably is the people's name for themselves. Hence, "a heathen enemy, an unfeeling foe" (c. 1600).
Pope Gregory the Great intended to make London, as the largest southern Anglo-Saxon city, the metropolitan see of southern England, but Christianity got a foothold first in the minor kingdom of Kent, whose heathen ruler Ethelbert had married a Frankish Christian princess. London was in the Kingdom of Essex and out of reach of the missionaries at first. Therefore, in part perhaps to flatter Ethelbert, his capital was made the cathedral city. Related: Canterburian. The shrine of Thomas à Becket, murdered there 1170, was a favorite pilgrimage destination.
Middle English Saracene, Sarcene, Sarazyn, Sarasine, "a Turk; an Arab; a Muslim," from Old English (in translations from Latin), from Old French Saracin, Sarrasine or Medieval Latin Saracenus, from Greek sarakenos. This usually is said to be from Arabic sharquiyin, accusative plural of sharqiy "eastern," from sharq "east, sunrise," but this is not certain. In medieval times the name was associated with that of Biblical Sarah (q.v.).
Peple þat cleped hem self Saracenys, as þogh þey were i-come of Sarra [Ranulph Higden’s "Polychronicon," mid-14c., John Trevisa's translation, 1380s ]
It was the name Greeks and Romans gave to the nomads of the Syrian and Arabian deserts and the inhabitants of Arabia Felix, in the West it took on a sense of "Middle Eastern Muslim" from the Crusades. It also could be applied to any non-Christian people against whom a crusade was preached (the pagan Lithuanians), and in Middle English it was used generally for "one who is not a Christian or Jew; heathen, pagan" (mid-13c.). From c. 1300 as an adjective. Related: Saracenic; Sarcenism ("Islam"), and compare sarsen. Sarsinrie, "the Saracen people or country," is attested in mid-15c.
fem. proper name, name of the faithful wife in the "Odyssey," from Greek Pēnelopē, Pēnelopeia, which is perhaps related to pēne "thread on the bobbin," from pēnos "web," cognate with Latin pannus "cloth garment" (see pane (n.)). But Beekes suggests rather a connection with pēnelops "duck or wild goose with colored neck." Used in English as the type of the virtuous wife (1580) as it was in Latin.
Penelope, the daughter of Icarus, was a rare and perfect example of chastity. For though it was generally thought that her husband Ulysses was dead, since he had been absent from her twenty years; yet, neither the desires of her parents, nor the solicitations of her lovers, could prevail on her to marry another man, and to violate the promises of constancy which she gave to her husband when he departed. And when many noblemen courted her, and even threatened her with ruin, unless she declared which of them should marry her, she desired that the choice might be deferred till she had finished the piece of needle-work about which she was then employed: but undoing by night what she had worked by day, she delayed them till Ulysses returned and killed them all. Hence came the proverb, "To weave Penelope's web;" that is, to labour in vain; when one hand destroys what the other has wrought. [Andrew Tooke, "The Pantheon, Representing the Fabulous Histories of the Heathen Gods and Most Illustrious Heroes, in a Plain and Familiar Method," London: 1824]