"consisting of a mixture, diversified," 1630s, from Latin miscellaneus "mixed, miscellaneous," from miscellus "mixed," from miscere "to mix" (from PIE root *meik- "to mix"). Related: Miscellaneously; miscellaneousness.
also *meig-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to mix."
It forms all or part of: admix; admixture; immiscible; mash; meddle; medley; melange; melee; mestizo; metis; miscegenation; miscellaneous; miscible; mix; mixo-; mixture; mustang; pell-mell; promiscuous.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit misrah "mixed;" Greek misgein, mignynai "to mix, mix up, mingle; to join, bring together; join (battle); make acquainted with;" Old Church Slavonic mešo, mesiti "to mix," Russian meshat, Lithuanian maišau, maišyti "to mix, mingle," Welsh mysgu "to mix."
Chinese dish, 1885, American English, from Chinese (Cantonese dialect) tsap sui "odds and ends, miscellaneous bits." A Cantonese dish brought to the U.S. West Coast by Chinese immigrants.
"large miscellaneous collection," by 1830, said to be a variant of raff "heap, large amount," a dialectal survival from Middle English raf (compare raffish, riffraff), with form and sense associated with raft (n.1). But this use of the word emerged early in U.S., where raft (n.1) had meant "large floating mass or accumulation of fallen trees, logs, etc." by 1718.
"a mixture of various kinds; a medley; a combination of diverse objects, parts, or elements," 1590s, from Latin miscellanea "a writing on miscellaneous subjects," originally "meat hash, hodge-podge" (food for gladiators), neuter plural of miscellaneus "mixed," from miscere "to mix" (from PIE root *meik- "to mix"). From 1610s as "a diversified literary collection;" 1630s as "a book containing compositions on various subjects" (miscellanea in this sense is from 1570s).
also pot-pourri, 1610s, "mixed meats and vegetables cooked together and served in a stew," from French pot pourri "stew," literally "rotten pot" (loan-translation of Spanish olla podrida), from pourri, past participle of pourrir "to rot," from Vulgar Latin *putrire, from Latin putrescere "grow rotten" (see putrescent). The notion of "medley" led to the meaning "mixture of dried flowers and spices," attested in English by 1749. Figurative sense (originally in music) of "miscellaneous collection" is recorded from 1855.
1540s, "epic poem," also "a book of an epic" (suitable for recitation at one time), from French rhapsodie, from Latin rhapsodia, from Greek rhapsōidia "verse composition, recitation of epic poetry; a book, a lay, a canto," from rhapsōdos "reciter of epic poems," literally "one who stitches or strings songs together," from stem of rhaptein "to stitch, sew, weave" (from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend") + ōidē "song" (see ode).
According to Beekes, the notion in the Greek word is "originally 'who sews a poem together', referring to the uninterrupted sequence of epic verses as opposed to the strophic compositions of lyrics." William Mure ["Language and Literature of Antient Greece," 1850] writes that the Homeric rhapsōidia "originally applied to the portions of the poems habitually allotted to different performers in the order of recital, afterwards transferred to the twenty-four books, or cantos, into which each work was permanently divided by the Alexandrian grammarians."
The word had various specific or extended senses 16c.-17c., mostly now obsolete or archaic. Among them was "miscellaneous collection, confused mass (of things)," thus "literary work consisting of miscellaneous or disconnected pieces, a rambling composition." This, now obsolete, might be the path of the word to the meaning "an exalted or exaggeratedly enthusiastic expression of sentiment or feeling, speech or writing with more enthusiasm than accuracy or logical connection of ideas" (1630s). The meaning "sprightly musical composition" is recorded by 1850s.