Etymology
Advertisement
capital letter (n.)
late 14c.; see capital (adj.). So called because it is at the "head" of a sentence or word.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
raison d'etre (n.)

"excuse for being," 1864, first recorded in letter of J.S. Mill, from French raison d'être, literally "rational grounds for existence."

Related entries & more 
nota bene 

a Latin phrase meaning "mark well, observe particularly," 1721, from Latin nota, second person singular imperative of notare "to mark" (from nota "mark, sign, note, character, letter;" see note (n.)) + bene "well" (see bene-). Often abbreviated N.B.

Related entries & more 
Cadmean victory (n.)

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).

Related entries & more 
post office (n.)

1650s, "public department in charge of letter-carrying," from post (n.3) + office. Meaning "building where postal business is carried on, office or place where letters are received for transmission," is from 1650s. In slang or euphemistic sense of "a sexual game" it refers to an actual parlor game first attested early 1850s in which pretend "letters" were paid for by kisses.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
Prester John 

c. 1300, Prestre Johan, legendary medieval Christian king and priest, said to have ruled either in the Far East or Ethiopia. Prestre (attested as a surname late 12c.) is from Vulgar Latin *prester, a transition between Latin presbyter and English priest. First mentioned in the West by mid-12c. chronicler Otto of Freising, who told how Johannes Presbyter won a great victory over the Persians and the Medes. Between 1165 and 1177 a forged letter purporting to be from him circulated in Europe. All this recalls the time when the Christian West was militarily threatened on its frontiers by Muslim powers, dreaming of a mythical deliverer. Compare Old French prestre Jehan (13c.), Italian prete Gianni.

Related entries & more 
long pig (n.)

"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]
Related entries & more