1899; never defined in a generally accepted way. Early use with reference to British India; later often of everything between Egypt and Iran. Hence Middle-Eastern (1903).
"Middle East," attested from 1944 in reference to western Asia. Loosely defined (compare Middle East).
German imperialistic policy of eastward expansion, 1906, literally "pressure to the east." From drang "pressure."
"the executive branch of the public service," as distinguished from the military, naval, legislative, or judicial, 1765, originally in reference to non-military staff of the East India Company, from civil in the sense "not military." Civil servant is from 1792.
lake of the River Jordan, mid-13c., from dead (adj.); its water is 26 percent salt (as opposed to 3 or 4 percent in most oceans) and supports practically no life. In the Bible it was the "Salt Sea" (Hebrew yam hammelah), also "Sea of the Plain" and "East Sea." In Arabic it is al-bahr al-mayyit "Dead Sea." The ancient Greeks knew it as he Thalassa asphaltites "the Asphaltite Sea." Latin Mare Mortum, Greek he nekra thalassa (both "The Dead Sea") referred to the sea at the northern boundaries of Europe, the Arctic Ocean.
In the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, the tenth or outermost of the revolving spheres of the universe, which was supposed to revolve from east to west in twenty-four hours, and to carry the others along with it in its motion; hence, any great or first source of motion. [Century Dictionary]
A translation of Arabic al-muharrik al-awwal "the first moving" (Avicenna). Englished by Chaucer as the firste Moeuyng (c. 1400). Old science also had primum frigidum "pure cold: an elementary substance, according to the doctrine of Parmenides."
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.
1942, "the Allied nations at war with the Axis powers;" the international body (officially the United Nations Organization) was chartered in 1945.
Such negotiation as may occur in New York is not conducted within the walls of the tall building by the East River: it is carried out elsewhere, in accordance with those principles of courtesy, confidence and discretion which must for ever remain the only principles conducive to the peaceful settlement of disputes. [Harold Nicholson, "The Evolution of Diplomatic Method," 1954]