1580s, "system of military discipline," from Latin militia "military service, warfare," from miles "soldier" (see military (adj.)). The sense of "citizen army" (as distinct from professional soldiers) is first recorded 1690s, perhaps from a sense in French cognate milice. Historically, the Anglo-Saxon forces that resisted the Vikings were militias, raised by counties. In U.S. history, by 1777 as "the whole body of men declared by law amenable to military service, without enlistment, whether armed and drilled or not" [Century Dictionary]. In early 19c. they were under control of the states, enrolled and drilled according to military law but not as regular soldiers, and called out periodically for drill and exercise and in emergency for actual service.
"to enroll compulsorily for military or naval service," 1813, American English, from conscript (n.). A word from the militia drafts in the War of 1812. Popularized (or unpopularized) during U.S. Civil War, when both sides resorted to it in 1862. Related: Conscripted; conscripting.
"soldiers who march and fight on horseback," 1590s, from French cavalerie (16c.), from Italian cavalleria "mounted militia," from cavaliere "mounted soldier" (see cavalier (n.)). An Old English word for it was horshere.
also minute-man, in U.S. history, one of a class of militia who held themselves in readiness for immediate service in arms (i.e. ready "at a minute's notice" or "in a matter of minutes"), 1774, from minute (n.) + man (n.). As the name of a type of ICBM, from 1961, so called because they could be launched with very little preparation.
"of or pertaining to a nation or a country regarded as a whole; established and maintained by the nation; peculiar to the whole people of a country," 1590s, from French national (16c., from Old French nacion), and also from nation + -al (1). Opposed to local or provincial (or in the U.S., state).
Meaning "peculiar or common to the whole people of a country" is by 1620s. From 1802 as "established and maintained by the nation or its laws." As a noun, "citizen of a (particular) nation," from 1887. Related: Nationally.
National guard is from 1793, originally in reference to an armed force in France identified with the revolution; U.S. use is from 1847, originally a name sometimes given to the organized militia. National anthem is recorded by 1806.
A King though he's pestered with cares,
For the most part he's able to ban them;
But one comes in a shape he never can escape—
The implacable National Anthem!
[W.S. Gilbert, "His Excellency," 1894]
late 14c., from Old French escuier "shield-bearer (attendant young man in training to be a knight), groom" (Modern French écuyer), from Medieval Latin scutarius "shield-bearer, guardsman" (in classical Latin, "shield-maker"), from scutum "shield" (see escutcheon). For initial e-, see e-. Compare squire (n.). Originally the feudal rank below knight, sense broadened 16c. to a general title of courtesy or respect for the educated and professional class, especially, later, in U.S., regarded as belonging especially to lawyers.
In our own dear title-bearing, democratic land, the title of esquire, officially and by courtesy, has come to include pretty much everybody. Of course everybody in office is an esquire, and all who have been in office enjoy and glory in the title. And what with a standing army of legislators, an elective and ever-changing magistracy, and almost a whole population of militia officers, present and past, all named as esquires in their commissions, the title is nearly universal. [N.Y. Commercial Advertiser newspaper, quoted in Bartlett, 1859]
a Middle English merger of Old English line "cable, rope; series, row, row of letters; rule, direction," and Old French ligne "guideline, cord, string; lineage, descent" (12c.), both from Latin linea "linen thread, string, plumb-line," also "a mark, bound, limit, goal; line of descent," short for linea restis "linen cord," and similar phrases, from fem. of lineus (adj.) "of linen," from linum "linen" (see linen).
The earliest sense in Middle English was "cord used by builders for taking measurements;" extended late 14c. to "a thread-like mark" (from sense "cord used by builders for making things level," mid-14c.), also "track, course, direction." Meaning "limit, boundary" (of a county, etc.) is from 1590s. The mathematical sense of "length without breadth" is from 1550s. From 1530s as "a crease of the face or palm of the hand." From 1580s as "the equator."
Sense of "things or people arranged in a straight line" is from 1550s. Now considered American English, where British English uses queue (n.), but the sense appears earliest in English writers. Sense of "chronologically continuous series of persons" (a line of kings, etc.) is from late 14c.
Meaning "one's occupation, branch of business" is from 1630s, according to OED probably from misunderstood KJV translation of II Corinthians x.16, "And not to boast in another mans line of things made ready to our hand," where line translates Greek kanon which probably meant "boundary, limit;" the phrase "in another man's line" being parenthetical.
Commercial meaning "class of goods in stock" is from 1930, so called from being goods received by the merchant on a line in the specific sense "order given to an agent" for particular goods (1834). Insurance underwriting sense is from 1899. Line of credit is from 1958.
Meaning "series of public conveyances" (coaches, later ships) is from 1786; meaning "continuous part of a railroad" is from 1825. Meaning "telegraph wire between stations" is from 1847 (later "telephone wire"). Meaning "cord bearing hooks used in fishing" is from c. 1300. Meaning "policy or set of policies of a political faction" is 1892, American English, from notion of a procession of followers; this is the sense in the political party line, and, deteriorated, it is the slang line that means "glib and plausible talk meant to deceive."
In British army, the Line (1802) is the regular, numbered troops, as distinguished from guards, auxiliaries, militia, etc. In the Navy (1704) it refers to the battle line (the sense in ship of the line, which is attested from 1706).
Dutch lijn, Old High German lina, German Leine, Old Norse lina "a cord, rope," are likewise from Latin. Spanish and Italian have the word in the learned form linea. In continental measurements, a subdivision of an inch (one-tenth or one-twelfth in England), attested in English from 1660s but never common. Also see lines.
To get a line on "acquire information about" is from 1903. To lay it on the line is from 1929 as "to pay money;" by 1954 as "speak plainly." End of the line "as far as one can go" is from 1948. One's line of work, meaning "pursuit, interest" is from 1957, earlier line of country (1861). Line-drawing is from 1891. A line-storm (1850) is a type supposed to happen in the 10 days or two weeks around the times the sun crosses the equator.