Etymology
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milk (n.)
Origin and meaning of milk

"opaque white fluid secreted by mammary glands of female mammals, suited to the nourishment of their young," Middle English milk, from Old English meoluc (West Saxon), milc (Anglian), from Proto-Germanic *meluk- "milk" (source also of Old Norse mjolk, Old Frisian melok, Old Saxon miluk, Dutch melk, Old High German miluh, German Milch, Gothic miluks), from *melk- "to milk," from PIE root *melg- "to wipe, to rub off," also "to stroke; to milk," in reference to the hand motion involved in milking an animal. Old Church Slavonic noun meleko (Russian moloko, Czech mleko) is considered to be adopted from Germanic.

Of milk-like plant juices or saps from c. 1200. Milk chocolate (eating chocolate made with milk solids, paler and sweeter) is recorded by 1723; milk shake was used from 1889 for a variety of concoctions, but the modern version (composed of milk, flavoring, etc., mixed by shaking) is from the 1930s. Milk tooth (1727) uses the word in its figurative sense "period of infancy," attested from 17c. To cry over spilt milk (representing anything which, once misused, cannot be recovered) is first attested 1836 in writing of Canadian humorist Thomas C. Haliburton. Milk and honey is from the Old Testament phrase describing the richness of the Promised Land (Numbers xvi.13, Old English meolc and hunie). Milk of human kindness is from "Macbeth" (1605).

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milk (v.)
Origin and meaning of milk

Old English melcan, milcian, meolcian "to press or draw milk from the breasts or udders of; give milk, suckle," from Proto-Germanic *melk- "to milk" (source also of Dutch melken, Old High German melchan, German melken), from PIE root *melg- "to rub off; to milk." Figurative sense of "exploit for profit" is by 1520s. In theater jargon, "to try to get more laughs, applause, etc. from the audience than is warranted" (1939). Related: Milked; milking.

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skim-milk (n.)
milk from which the cream has been skimmed, 1590s, from skim (v.) + milk (n.).
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milk-snake (n.)

"A handsome and harmless serpent" [Century Dictionary], one of the larger snakes of the U.S., common in many states, by 1812, from milk (n.) + snake (n.). Also called chicken-snake (attested by 1793), house-snake, and thunder-and-lightning snake.

It [the milk-snake] sometimes in this county has been known to enter a grist-mill and remain a length of time for the apparent purpose of feeding on the mice which were there attainable. It is probable this is one principal object of his frequenting dwelling houses, and not always for the purpose of obtaining milk, as is generally supposed. [The American Journal of Science and Arts, April 1844]
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milkweed (n.)
1590s, from milk (n.) + weed (n.); used in reference to various plants whose juice resembles milk.
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milkmaid (n.)

"woman who milks cows or is employed in a dairy," 1550s, from milk (n.) + maid.

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milkman (n.)

"man who sells milk," especially one who goes door to door, 1580s, from milk (n.) + man (n.).

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milky (adj.)
late 14c., "milk-like in color or consistency," from milk (n.) + -y (2). Related: Milkily; milkiness.
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milktoast (n.)

also milk-toast, 1831, "toast softened in milk," from milk (n.) + toast (n.1). Figurative of softness or innocence by 1859.

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buttermilk (n.)
1520s, from butter (n.) + milk (n.). Compare German Buttermilch, Dutch botermelk. It is what remains after the butter has been churned out.
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