biblical masc. proper name, Greek Barabbas, from Aramaic (Semitic) barabba, "son of the father," or "son of the master." In Hebrew, it would be ben abh. In the Crucifixion story, the name of the prisoner freed instead of Jesus at the crowd's insistence.
a name of God in the Bible, c. 1600, from Hebrew, plural (of majesty?) of Eloh "God" (cognate with Allah), a word of unknown etymology, perhaps an augmentation of El "God," also of unknown origin. Generally taken as singular, the use of this word instead of Yahveh is taken by biblical scholars as an important clue to authorship in the Old Testament, hence Elohist (1830; Elohistic is from 1841), title of the supposed writer of passages of the Pentateuch where the word is used.
French national republican song, 1826, from fem. of adjective Marseillais "of Marseilles." The tune originally was "War Song for the Rhine Army," composed (for the Strasbourg volunteers) by royalist officer Capt. Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle (1760-1836); the current name is because it was sung enthusiastically by soldiers from Marseilles advancing on the Tuileries, Aug. 10, 1792. However, during the Revolution, the city was punished for its royalist Sympathies by being stripped of its name and called instead Ville-sans-Nom "city without a name" (which is, of course, a name).
faint constellation and 11th zodiac sign, late Old English, from Latin aquarius, literally "water carrier," properly an adjective, "pertaining to water" (see aquarium); a loan-translation of Greek Hydrokhoos "the water-pourer," the old Greek name of this constellation.
The Aquarians (1580s) were a former Christian sect; its adherents used water instead of wine at the Lord's Supper. Aquarian Age (alluded to from 1913) is an astrological epoch (based on precession of the equinoxes) supposed to have begun in the 20th century (though in one estimate, 1848), it would be characterized by the traits of this sign, usher in world peace and human brotherhood, and last approximately 2,160 years. The term and the concept probably got a boost in popular use from the rock song "Age of Aquarius" (1967) and when An Aquarian Exposition was used as the sub-title of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair (1969).
"black man," 1838, American English, originally the name of a black minstrel character in a popular song-and-dance act by T.D. Rice (1808-1860) that debuted 1828 and attained national popularity by 1832:
Wheel about, an' turn about, an' do jis so;
Eb'ry time I wheel about, I jump Jim Crow.
Where and how Rice got it, or wrote it, is a mystery. Even before that, crow (n.) had been a derogatory term for a black man. As an adjective from 1833, in reference to the song. Association with segregation dates from 1841, in reference to separate railroad cars for blacks in Massachusetts. Modern use as a type of racial discrimination is from 1943. Jim Crow also could be a reference to someone's change of (political) principles (1837, from the "jump" in the song) or reversible machinery (1875, "wheel about").
On his arrival in Boston, Mr. [Charles Lenox] R[emond] went to the Eastern rail-road depot, in order to visit his parents in Salem; but, instead of being allowed to ride with other passengers, he was compelled to take a seat in what is contemptuously called the "Jim Crow car," as though he were a leper or a wild animal! [Annual Report of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, 1842]
10th letter of the English alphabet, pronounced "jay," as in "kay" for -k-, but formerly written out as jy, rhyming with -i- and corresponding to French ji.
One of the most stable English letters (it has almost always the same sound), it is a latecomer to the alphabet and originally had no sound value. The letter itself began as a scribal modification of Roman -i- in continental Medieval Latin. The scribes added a "hook" to small -i-, especially in the final position in a word or roman numeral, to distinguish it from the strokes of other letters. The dot on the -i- (and thus the -j-) and the capitalization of the pronoun I are other solutions to the same problems.
In English, -j- was used as a roman numeral throughout Middle English, but the letter -y- was used to spell words ending an "i" sound, so -j- was not needed to represent a sound. Instead, it was introduced into English c. 1600-1640 to take up the consonantal sound that had evolved from the Roman i- since Late Latin times. In Italian, g- was used to represent this, but in other languages j- took the job. This usage is attested earliest in Spanish, where it was in place before 1600.
No word beginning with J is of Old English derivation. [OED]
English dictionaries did not distinguish words beginning in -i- and -j- until 19c., and -j- formerly was skipped when letters were used to express serial order.
In Latin texts printed in modern times, -j- often is used to represent Latin -i- before -a-, -e-, -o-, -u- in the same syllable, which in Latin was sounded as the consonant in Modern English you, yam, etc., but the custom has been controversial among Latinists:
The character J, j, which represents the letter sound in some school-books, is an invention of the seventeenth century, and is not found in MSS., nor in the best texts of the Latin authors. [Lewis]
In English words from Hebrew, -j- represents yodh, which was equivalent to English consonantal y (hence hallelujah) but many of the Hebrew names later were conformed in sound to the modern -j- (compare Jesus).
late 14c., of language, "German, non-Scandinavian continental Germanic," also as a noun, "a German language;" also in Duche-lond "Germany." By mid-15c. distinguished into Higher and Lower, and used after c. 1600 in the narrower sense "Hollanders, residents of the Netherlands." From Middle Dutch duutsch, from Old High German duitisc, from Proto-Germanic *theudō "popular, national" (source of Modern German Deutsch), from PIE *teuta- "tribe" (compare Teutonic).
It corresponds to the Old English adjective þeodisc "belonging to the people," which was used especially of the common language of Germanic people (as opposed to Latin), a derivative of the Old English noun þeod "people, race, nation." The language name is first attested in Latin as theodice (786 C.E.) in correspondence between Charlemagne's court and the Pope, in reference to a synodical conference in Mercia; thus it refers to Old English. Its first use in reference to a German language (as opposed to a Germanic one) is two years later. The sense was extended from the language to the people who spoke it (in German, Diutisklant, ancestor of Deutschland, was in use by 13c.).
The sense in of the adjective in English narrowed to "of the Netherlands" in 17c., after they became a united, independent state and the focus of English attention and rivalry. In Holland, Duits (formerly duitsch) is used of the people of Germany. The old use of Dutch for "German" continued in America (Irving and Cooper still distinguish High Dutch "German" and Low Dutch "Dutch") and survives in Pennsylvania Dutch for the descendants of religious sects that immigrated from the Rhineland and Switzerland and their language.
Since c. 1600, Dutch (adj.) has been a "pejorative label pinned by English speakers on almost anything they regard as inferior, irregular, or contrary to 'normal' (i.e., their own) practice" [Rawson]. E.g. ironical Dutch treat, of each person paying for himself (1887), Dutch courage "boldness inspired by intoxicating spirits" (1809), nautical Dutch talent "any piece of work not done in shipshape style (1867), etc. — probably exceeded in such usage only by Indian and Irish — reflecting first British commercial and military rivalry and later heavy German immigration to U.S.
Dutch concert, a concert in which each one sings his own song at the same time that his neighbor sings his; or a concert in which each one sings a verse of any song he pleases, some well-known chorus being sung after each verse. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
The Dutch themselves spoke English well enough to understand the unsavory connotations of the label and in 1934 Dutch officials were ordered by their government to stop using the term Dutch. Instead, they were to rewrite their sentences so as to employ the official The Netherlands. [Rawson]
Dutch oven is from 1769; OED lists it among the words describing things from Holland, but perhaps it is here used in the slighting sense. Dutch elm disease (1927) so called because it was first discovered in Holland (caused by fungus Ceratocystis ulmi). A Dutch uncle (1838) is one who is kindly severe and direct.