masc. proper name, from Latin, from Greek Alexandros "defending men," from alexein "to ward off, keep off, turn (something) away, defend, protect" + anēr (genitive andros) "man" (from PIE root *ner- (2) "man"). The first element perhaps is related to Greek alke "protection, help, strength, power, courage," alkimos "strong;" and cognate with Sanskrit raksati "protects," Old English ealgian "to defend."
As a kind of cocktail recipe featuring crème de cacao and cream, Alexander is attested from 1913; the reason for the name is unclear.
also Laocoön name of a Trojan priest of Apollo, from Latin Laocoon, from Greek Laukoun, from laos "people" (see lay (adj.)) + koeo "I mark, perceive."
Laocoön, n. A famous piece of antique sculpture representing a priest of that time and his two sons in the folds of two enormous serpents. The skill and diligence with which the old man and lads support the serpents and keep them up in their work have been justly regarded as one of the noblest artistic illustrations of the mastery of human intelligence over brute inertia. [Ambrose Bierce, "Devil's Dictionary," 1911]
1670s, "of or pertaining to Dalmatia" (q.v.); as a noun, 1580s, "inhabitant of Dalmatia."
The breed of spotted dogs so called from 1893, short for Dalmatian dog (1810), presumably named for Dalmatia, but dog breeders argue over whether there is a Croatian ancestry for the breed, which seems to be represented in Egyptian bas-reliefs and Hellenic friezes. They were popular in early 1800s as carriage dogs, trotting alongside carriages and guarding the vehicles in owner's absence (the alternative name coach-dog is attested from 1792). Even fire departments nowadays tend to spell it *Dalmation.
THE use to which this beautiful and shewy breed is applied, being so universally known both in Town and Country, needs a bare mention: how long it has been the fashion to keep these dogs, as attendants of the Coach Horse Stable, and as precursors to the Carriage, as if to clear the way and announce its approach, does not appear in our common books of reference on the subject; but the practice may probably be a century or two old, and was doubtless derived from Continental usage. ["The Sportsman's Repository," London, 1831]
region in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, from Munsee Delaware (Algonquian) chwewamink "at the big river flat," from /xw-/ "big" + /-e:wam-/ "river flat" + /-enk/ "place." Popularized by 1809 poem "Gertrude of Wyoming," set amid wars between Indians and American settlers, written by Scottish author Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), who seems to have had a vague or defective notion of Pennsylvania geography:
On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming!
Although the wild-flower on thy ruin'd wall,
And roofless homes, a sad remembrance bring,
Of what thy gentle people did befall;
Yet thou wert once the loveliest land of all
That see the Atlantic wave their morn restore.
Sweet land! may I thy lost delights recall,
And paint thy Gertrude in her bowers of yore,
Whose beauty was the love of Pennsylvania's shore!
et cetera. Subsequently applied 19c. to other locations (in Kansas, Ohio, and Wisconsin), and to a western territory organized July 25, 1868 (admitted as a state 1890).
On the same day there was debate in the Senate over the name for the new Territory. Territories often keep their names when they become States, so we may be glad that "Cheyenne," to be pronounced "Shy-en," was not adopted. "Lincoln" was rejected for an obvious and, no doubt, sound reason. Apparently, nobody had a better name to offer, though there must be plenty of Indian words that could properly be used, and, for the present, the insignificant "Wyoming" is retained. [The Nation, June 11, 1868]
eleventh Roman letter, from Greek kappa, from Phoenician kaph or a similar Semitic source, said to mean literally "hollow of the hand" and to be so called for its shape.
Little used in classical Latin, which at an early age conformed most of its words (the exceptions had ritual importance) to a spelling using -c- (a character derived from Greek gamma). In Late Latin, pronunciation of -c- shifted (in the direction of "s"). Greek names brought into Latin also were regularized with a -c- spelling, and then underwent the Late Latin sound-shift; hence the modern pronunciation of Cyrus, Circe. To keep their pronunciation clear, the many Greek words (often Church words) that entered Latin after this shift tended to take Latin -k- for Greek kappa.
K- thus became a supplementary letter to -c- in Medieval Latin, used with Greek and foreign words. But most of the languages descended from Latin had little need of it, having evolved other solutions to the sound shifts.
K- also was scarce in Old English. After the Norman conquest, new scribal habits restricted -c- and expanded the use of -k-, which began to be common in English spelling from 13c. This probably was done because the sound value of -c- was evolving in French and the other letter was available to clearly mark the "k" sound for scribes working in English. For more, see C.
In words transliterated from Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Japanese, Hawaiian, etc., it represents several different sounds lumped. In modern use some of them are now with kh-; in older borrowings they often followed traditional English spelling and were written with a C- (Corea, Caaba, etc.).
As a symbol for potassium, it represents Latin kalium "potash." In CMYK as a color system for commercial printing it means "black" but seems to stand for key in a specialized printing sense. Slang meaning "one thousand dollars" is 1970s, from kilo-. K as a measure of capacity (especially in computer memory) meaning "one thousand" also is an abbreviation of kilo-.
As an indication of "strikeout" in baseball score-keeping it dates from 1874 and is said to represent the last letter of struck. The invention of the scorecard symbols is attributed to English-born U.S. newspaperman Henry Chadwick (1824-1908) principally of the old New York "Clipper," who had been writing baseball since 1858, and who explained it thus:
Smith was the first striker, and went out on three strikes, which is recorded by the figure "1" for the first out, and the letter K to indicate how put out, K being the last letter of the word "struck." The letter K is used in this instance as being easier to remember in connection with the word struck than S, the first letter, would be. [Henry Chadwick, "Chadwick's Base Ball Manual," London, 1874]