the hand opposed to the left hand, late Old English rihthand; see right (adj.2) + hand (n.). So called as the one normally the stronger of the two. Applied to the right side generally by c. 1200. As a symbol of friendship or alliance, by 1590s. Figurative for "indispensable helper, person of use or importance," 1520s (right-hand man is attested by 1660s). Right-handed "having the right hand more useful than the left" is attested from late 14c.; as an adjective from c. 1700. Right-hander, of persons, "one who uses the right hand more skillfully than the left" is by 1885.
1570s of armies; from 1882 in field sports; by 1905 in the political sense (compare left wing). Right-winger is attested by 1919 in U.S. politics; 1895 in sports.
c. 1600, "victory involving one's own ruin," translating Greek Kadmeia nikē, from Cadmus (Greek Kadmos), legendary hero-founder of Thebes in Boeotia and bringer of the original sixteen-letter alphabet to Greece. Probably a reference to the story of Cadmus and the "Sown-Men," who fought each other till only a handful were left alive. Compare Pyrrhic (adj.1).
1660s, cast iron, from iron (n.) + cast (adj.) "made by melting and being left to harden in a mold" (1530s), past-participle adjective from cast (v.) in its sense "to throw something (in a particular way)," c. 1300, especially "form metal into a shape by pouring it molten" (1510s). From 1690s as an adjective, "made of cast-iron;" figurative sense of "inflexible, unyielding" is from 1830.
1712, "belonging to a prehistoric age," see old + world. Meaning "of or pertaining to Eurasia and Africa," as opposed to the Americas, is by 1877. The noun phrase Old World in this sense is by 1590s. The division of the earth into Old World and New World among Europeans dates to 1503 and Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci's use of Latin Mundus Novus for the lands of the western hemisphere found by Columbus and others, indicating they were not part of Asia.
The Known World is usually divided into four Parts, Europe, Asia, Africk and America. But it is a most unequal Division, and I think it more rational to divide it thus. Viz. the Known World, first into two Parts, the Old and the New World; then the Old World into three, Europe, Asia, and Africa; and the New into two, the Northern and Southern America. [Guy Miege, "A New Cosmography, or Survey of the Whole World," London, 1682]
In lexicons of sea language going back to 1759, the bitter end is the part of a cable which is round about the bitts (the two great timbers used to belay cables) when the ship is at anchor (see bitt).
Bitter end of the Cable, the End which is wound about the Bitts. ["The News-Readers Pocket-Book: Or, a Military Dictionary," London, 1759]
So, when a cable is played out to the bitter end, there is no more left to play. The term began to be used c. 1835 in non-nautical use and with probable influence of or merger with bitter (adj.).
"human being eaten as food," by 1848, in stories from the Fiji Islands, said to be a literal rendering of a local term, in one version puaka balava.
Bau literally stank for many days, human flesh having been cooked in every house, and the entrails thrown outside as food for pigs, or left to putrefy in the sun. The Somosomo people were fed with human flesh during their stay at Bau, they being on a visit at that time; and some of the Chiefs of other towns, when bringing their food, carried a cooked human being on one shoulder, and a pig on the other; but they always preferred the "long pig," as they call a man when baked. ["FEEJEE.—Extract of a Letter from the Rev. John Watsford, dated Ono, October 6th, 1846." in "Wesleyan Missionary Notices," Sept. 1847]