European nation along the North Sea west of Germany, from Dutch Nederland, literally "lower land" (see nether); said to have been used especially by the Austrians (who ruled much of the southern part of the Low Countries from 1713 to 1795), by way of contrast to the mountains they knew, but the name is older than this. The Netherlands formerly included Flanders and thus were equivalent geographically and etymologically to the Low Countries. Related: Netherlander; Netherlandish (both c. 1600). In German terms, Netherlander is contrasted with Dutch Overlander, German Oberländer.
masc. personal name, in medieval lore the name of one of Charlemagne's peers, friend of Roland, from French Olivier, from Middle Low German Alfihar, literally "elf-host, elf-army," from alf "elf" (see elf) + hari "host, army" (see harry (v.)). It is cognate with the Anglo-Saxon name Ælfhere. The form in Old French was influenced by olivier "olive tree."
moon goddess, equivalent of Latin Luna, from Greek selēnē "the moon; name of the moon goddess," related to selas "light, brightness, bright flame, flash of an eye," from PIE root *swel- (2) "to shine, beam" (source also of Sanskrit svargah "heaven," Lithuanian svilti "to singe," Old English swelan "to be burnt up," Middle Low German swelan "to smolder"); related to swelter, sultry. Related: Selenian "of or pertaining to the moon as a world," 1660s.
female proper name, shortened form of Mollie, Molly, itself a familiar of Mary. Used from c. 1600 for "prostitute," but in low slang by early 19c. it also meant "female companion not bound by ties of marriage, but often a life-mate" [Century Dictionary]. It became a general word for "woman" in old underworld slang, for instance Moll-buzzer "pickpocket who specializes in women;" Moll-tooler "female pick-pocket." U.S. sense of "a gangster's girlfriend" is by 1923.
seventh day of the week, Old English sæterdæg, sæternesdæg, literally "day of the planet Saturn," from Sæternes (genitive of Sætern; see Saturn) + Old English dæg (see day). Partial loan-translation of Latin Saturni dies "Saturn's day" (compare Dutch Zaterdag, Old Frisian Saterdi, Middle Low German Satersdach; Irish dia Sathuirn, Welsh dydd Sadwrn). The Latin word itself is a loan-translation of Greek kronou hēmera, literally "the day of Cronus."
Unlike other English day names, no god substitution seems to have been attempted, perhaps because the northern European pantheon lacks a clear corresponding figure to Roman Saturn. A homely ancient Nordic custom, however, seems to be preserved in Old Norse laugardagr, Danish lørdag, Swedish lördag "Saturday," literally "bath day" (Old Norse laug "bath").
German Samstag (Old High German sambaztag) appears to be from a Greek *sambaton, a nasalized colloquial form of sabbaton "sabbath," also attested in Old Church Slavonic sabota, Polish sobota, Russian subbota, Hungarian szombat, French samedi.
Saturday night has been used figuratively to suggest "drunkenness and looseness in relations between the young men and young women" at least since mid-19c. Saturday-night special "cheap, low-caliber handgun" is American English, attested from 1976 (earlier Saturday-night pistol, 1929).