mid-15c., "the tilling of land, act of preparing the earth for crops," from Latin cultura "a cultivating, agriculture," figuratively "care, culture, an honoring," from past participle stem of colere "to tend, guard; to till, cultivate" (see colony). Meaning "the cultivation or rearing of a crop, act of promoting growth in plants" (1620s) was transferred to fish, oysters, etc., by 1796, then to "production of bacteria or other microorganisms in a suitable environment" (1880), then "product of such a culture" (1884).
The figurative sense of "cultivation through education, systematic improvement and refinement of the mind" is attested by c. 1500; Century Dictionary writes that it was, "Not common before the nineteenth century, except with strong consciousness of the metaphor involved, though used in Latin by Cicero." Meaning "learning and taste, the intellectual side of civilization" is by 1805; the closely related sense of "collective customs and achievements of a people, a particular form of collective intellectual development" is by 1867.
For without culture or holiness, which are always the gift of a very few, a man may renounce wealth or any other external thing, but he cannot renounce hatred, envy, jealousy, revenge. Culture is the sanctity of the intellect. [William Butler Yeats, journal, 7 March, 1909]
Slang culture vulture "one voracious for culture" is from 1947. Culture shock "disorientation experienced when a person moves to a different cultural environment or an unfamiliar way of life" is attested by 1940. Ironic or contemptuous spelling kulchur is attested from 1940 (Pound), and compare kultur.
late 14c., "irregular shaped lump; body of unshaped, coherent matter," from Old French masse "lump, heap, pile; crowd, large amount; ingot, bar" (11c.), and directly from Latin massa "kneaded dough, lump, that which adheres together like dough," probably from Greek maza "barley cake, lump, mass, ball," which is related to massein "to knead," from PIE root *mag- "to knead, fashion, fit."
The sense in English was extended 1580s to "a large quantity, amount, or number." Meaning "bulk" in general is from c. 1600. As "the bulk or greater part of anything" from 1620s. Strict sense in physics, "quantity of a portion of matter expressed in pounds or grams" is from 1704.
As an adjective, "of, involving, or composed of masses of people; done on a large scale," from 1733, first attested in American English mass meeting "public assembly persons in mass or of all classes to consider or listen to the discussion of some matter of common interest." Mass culture is from 1916 in sociology (earlier in biology); mass hysteria is from 1914; mass movement is from 1897; mass grave is from 1918; mass murder from 1880.
"eucharistic service," Middle English messe, masse, from Old English mæsse, from Vulgar Latin *messa "eucharistic service," literally "dismissal," from Late Latin missa "dismissal," fem. past participle of mittere "to let go, send" (see mission).
Probably so called from the concluding words of the service, Ite, missa est, "Go, (the prayer) has been sent," or "Go, it is the dismissal." The Latin word sometimes was glossed in Old English as sendnes "send-ness." Meaning "musical setting of certain parts of the Catholic (or Anglican) liturgy" is by 1590s.
late 14c., transitive, "to form into a mass" (implied in y-maced), from mass (n.1) or from French masser. Intransitive sense of "to gather in a mass, collect in masses" is by 1560s. Related: Massed; massing.
"nuclear, biological and chemical weapons" attested by 1946, apparently first used (in Russian) by the Soviets.
The terms "weapons of mass destruction" and "WMD" mean chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and chemical, biological, and nuclear materials used in the manufacture of such weapons. [United States Code: Title 50, "War and National Defense," chapter 43, § 2902, 2009]
also counter-culture, "way of life or collective values deliberately at variance with the prevailing norms of a time and place," 1968, from counter- + culture (n.). Popularized by, and perhaps coined in, the book "The Making of a Counter Culture" by U.S. academic Theodore Roszak. As an adjective by 1972.
"book containing all the liturgical forms necessary for celebrating the Mass through the year," c. 1300, from Old French messel "book of the Mass" (12c.) and directly from Medieval Latin missale, neuter of adjective missalis "pertaining to the Mass," from Late Latin missa "Mass" (see mass (n.2)). As an adjective, "pertaining to the Mass or Mass-book," from mid-15c.