Middle English, from Old English nowiht "nothing," variant of nawiht (see naught). Meaning "zero, cipher" is from early 15c. Expression for nought "in vain" is from c. 1200. To come to nought is from early 15c. (become to naught, ycome to naught are from c. 1300).
literally (one who or that which) "fears nothing," from the verbal phrase (drede ich nawiht is attested from c. 1200); see dread (v.) + nought (n.). As a synonym for "battleship" (1916) it is from a specific ship's name. Dreadnought is mentioned as the name of a ship in the Royal Navy as early as c. 1596, but the modern generic sense is from the name of the first of a new class of British battleships, based on the "all big-gun" principle (armed with 10 big guns rather than 4 large guns and a battery of smaller ones), launched Feb. 18, 1906.
mid-14c., "evil, an evil act," also " a trifle," c. 1400, "nothingness;" early 15c., in arithmetic, "the number zero;" from noht, naht (pron.) "nothing" (late 12c.), from Old English nawiht "nothing," literally "no whit," from na "no" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + wiht "thing, creature, being" (see wight). Also see nought.
Cognate with Old Saxon neowiht "nothing," Old High German niwiht, Gothic ni waihts, Dutch niet, German nicht. It also developed an adjectival sense in Old English, "good for nothing," which by mid-16c. had focused to "morally bad, wicked," though the modern adjective is naughty.
early 15c., "to risk the loss" (of something), shortened form of aventure, itself a form of adventure. General sense of "to dare, to presume" is recorded from 1550s. Related: Ventured; venturing.
Nought venter nought have [Heywood, "Proverbs," 1546]
1590s, from Latin immutabilitas "unchangeableness," from immutabilis "unchangeable" (see immutable).
Nought may endure but Mutability. [Shelley]
late 14c., "tendency to change, inconstancy," from Old French mutabilité, from Latin mutabilitas, from mutabilis "changeable" (see mutable).
It is the same!—For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free;
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.
[Shelley, from "Mutability," 1816]
c. 1300, present-participle adjective from sleep (v.). Sleeping-pill is from 1660s; sleeping-bag is from 1850; sleeping sickness as a specific African tropical disease is first recorded 1875; sleeping has been used since late 14c. for diseases marked by morbid conditions. Sleeping Beauty (1729) is Perrault's La belle au bois dormant.
It is ill wakyng of a sleapyng dogge. [Heywood, 1562]
It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake. [Chaucer, c. 1385]
Old English hwit "whiteness, white food, white of an egg," from white (adj.). Also in late Old English "a highly luminous color devoid of chroma." Meaning "white part of the eyeball" is from c. 1400. Meaning "white man, person of a race distinguished by light complexion" is from 1670s; white man in this sense is from 1690s. White man's burden is from Kipling's 1899 poem:
Take up the White Man's burden—
The savage wars of peace—
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.