also Druze, one of a people and Muslim sect centered in the mountains of Lebanon, 1786, from Arabic duruz, plural of darazi, from name of the sect founder, Ismail ad-Darazi (11c.), literally "Ismail the Tailor."
"Mediterranean lands east of Italy," especially the coastal region and islands of Asia Minor, Syria, and Lebanon, late 15c., from French levant "the Orient" (12c.), from present participle of lever "to rise" (from Latin levare "to raise," from PIE root *legwh- "not heavy, having little weight"). So called because the region was (from Western Europe) in the direction of sunrise. Related: Levanter.
symbol of artistic or intellectual aloofness, by 1889, from French tour d'ivoire, used in 1837 by critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869) with reference to the poet Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863), whom he accused of excessive aloofness.
Et Vigny, plus secret, comme en sa tour d'ivoire, avant midi rentrait. [Sainte-Beuve, "Pensées d'Août, à M. Villemain," 1837]
Used earlier as a type of a wonder or a symbol of "the ideal." The literal image is perhaps from Song of Solomon [vii:4]:
Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus. [KJV]
"type of coniferous tree noted for its slow growth and hard timber," late Old English ceder, blended in Middle English with Old French cedre, both from Latin cedrus, from Greek kedros "cedar, juniper," a word of uncertain origin.
True cedars are those native to Lebanon and the Levant, western North Africa, and the Himalayas, but the name has been applied to many more or less similar trees in North America and the tropics. Cedar oil was used by the Egyptians in embalming as a preservative against decay and the word for it was used figuratively for "immortality" by the Romans. Cedar chest, one made of cedar wood to protect contents from moths and other insects, is attested from 1722. Related: Cedrine.
extremist Shiite group active in Lebanon, founded c. 1982, from Persian hezbollah, Arabic hizbullah, literally "Party of God," from hezb/hizb "party" + allah "God." An adherent is a Hezbollahi. The name of various Islamic groups in modern times, the name itself is attested in English by 1960 in reference to an Indonesian guerrilla battalion of 1945 that "grew out of a similarly named organization formed by the Japanese to give training in military drill to young Moslems."
In Modjokuto (like Masjumi itself, Hizbullah was Indonesia-wide but, also like Masjumi, it had little effective central organization) this group was led by the present head of Muhammadijah — the same man who a year or so before was going to Djakarta for propaganda training and studying to be a kamikaze. [Clifford Geertz, "The Religion of Java," Chicago, 1960]
1530s (in Anglo-Latin from mid-13c.), via medieval French and Italian Assissini, Assassini, from Arabic hashīshīn (12c.), an Arabic nickname, variously explained, for the Nizari Ismaili sect in the Middle East during the Crusades, plural of hashishiyy, from the source of hashish (q.v.).
They were a fanatical Muslim sect in the mountains of Lebanon at the time of the Crusades, under leadership of the "Old Man of the Mountains" (which translates Arabic shaik-al-jibal, name applied to Hasan ibu-al-Sabbah). In Western European minds 12c.-13c. they had a reputation for murdering opposing leaders after intoxicating themselves by eating hashish, but there is no evidence that the medieval Ismailis used hashish.
The plural suffix -in was mistaken in Europe for part of the word (compare Bedouin). Middle English had the word as hassais (mid-14c.), from Old French hassasis, assasis, which is from the Arabic word.
The generalization of the sect's nickname to the meaning of any sort of assassin happened in Italian at the start of the 14th century. The word with the generalized meaning was often used in Italian in the 14th and 15th centuries. In the mid 16th century the generalized Italian word entered French, followed a little later by English. ["English Words of Arabic Ancestry"]