1630s, "laying waste, ravaging," present-participle adjective from devastate. Trivial or hyperbolic use is by 1889.
1630s, "awful, dreadful, terrible," from Latin tremendus "fearful, to be dreaded, terrible," literally "to be trembled at," gerundive form of tremere "to tremble" (see tremble (v.)). Hyperbolic or intensive sense of "extraordinarily great or good, immense" is attested from 1812, paralleling semantic changes in terrific, terrible, dreadful, awful, etc. Related: Tremendously.
mid-13c., "timid, fearful, full of terror," from fright (n.) + -ful. The prevailing modern sense of "alarming, full of occasion for fright" is from c. 1600. Meaning "dreadful, horrible, shocking" (often hyperbolic) is attested from c. 1700; Johnson noted it as "a cant word among women for anything unpleasing." Related: Frightfully; frightfulness. Middle English also had frighty "causing fear," also "afraid" (mid-13c.).
late 14c., from Old French superlatif "absolute, highest; powerful; best" (13c.) and directly from Late Latin superlativus "extravagant, exaggerated, hyperbolic," from Latin superlatus "exaggerated" (used as past participle of superferre "carry over or beyond"), from super "beyond" (see super-) + lat- "carry," from *tlat-, past participle stem of tollere "to take away" (see extol). Related: Superlatively; superlativeness.
The noun is attested from 1520s, originally in the grammatical sense, "a word in the superlative;" hence "exaggerated language" (1590s).
Middle English sein, "visible, able to be seen with the eyes; plain, clear, manifest," from Old English gesegen, gesewen, past participle of seon (see see (v.)). From c. 1200 as "perceived, discovered." From c. 1300 as "experienced, undergone." To have seen everything as a hyperbolic expression of astonishment is from 1941 (the phrase itself is older, in "Gatsby," etc.).
He that has seen one thing hath seen all things ; for he has got the general idea of something. [Locke, 1706]
The saw or vulgar maxim about children being best seen and not heard (by 1816) was previously of maids specifically (mid-15c.).
Well, at length my wish was in part gratified—lady Cowley was announced. It has been said that women, like children, should be "seen and not heard." I am no advocate for dumb dolls, yet I object to catching the voice through long passages ere one sees the party, and in the present instance ... (etc.) ["The Spinster's Journal," vol. 1, by 'A Modern Antique,' London: 1816]