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outstanding (adj.)

1610s, "projecting, prominent, detached," from out- + standing (adj.) "having an erect position, upright." Figurative sense of "conspicuous, striking" is recorded from 1830. Meaning "unpaid, unsettled" is from 1797.

The verb outstand is attested in 16c. as "endure successfully, hold out against," now obsolete; the intransitive sense of "to project outward from the main body, stand out prominently" is by 1755 and probably is a back-formation from outstanding. Earlier were outstonden "to stand up" (mid-13c.); outstonding (verbal noun) "a prominence or protuberance" (early 15c.), but these seem not to have survived Middle English. Related: Outstandingly.

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master-mind (n.)

1720, "an outstanding intellect," from master (n.) + mind (n.). Meaning "head of a criminal enterprise" is attested by 1872. As a verb (also mastermind), "to engage in the highest level of planning and execution of a major operation," from 1940. Related: Masterminded; masterminding.

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stellar (adj.)
1650s, "pertaining to stars, star-like," from Late Latin stellaris "pertaining to a star, starry," from stella "star," from PIE *sterla-, suffixed form of root *ster- (2) "star." Meaning "outstanding, leading" (1883) is from the theatrical sense of star.
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Sri Lanka 
large island southeast of India (known in English until 1972 as Ceylon), from Lanka, older name for the island and its chief city, + Sanskrit sri "beauty" (especially of divinities, kings, heroes, etc.), also an honorific prefix to proper names, from PIE root *kreie- "to be outstanding, brilliant, masterly, beautiful," found in Greek (kreon "lord, master") and Indo-Iranian.
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excellent (adj.)

"unexcelled, distinguished for superior merit of any kind, of surpassing character or quality, uncommonly valuable for any reason, remarkably good," mid-14c., from Old French excellent "outstanding, excellent," from Latin excellentem (nominative excellens) "towering, prominent, distinguished, superior, surpassing," present participle of excellere "surpass, be superior; to rise, be eminent," from ex "out from" (see ex-) + -cellere "rise high, tower," related to celsus "high, lofty, great," from PIE root *kel- (2) "to be prominent; hill." Related: Excellently.

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highlight (n.)

1650s, originally of paintings, "the brightest part of a subject," from high (adj.) + light (n.). High lights came also to mean the lighter and brighter paints and colors used in making pictures (as opposed to  middle tints and shade tints), and the terminology carried over into photography and engraving. The figurative sense of "outstanding feature or characteristic" is by 1855 (as highlights give effect to a picture) but was not common before c. 1920. Hairdressing sense is 1941. Related: Highlights.

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episode (n.)

1670s, "commentary between two choric songs in a Greek tragedy," also "an incidental narrative or digression within a story, poem, etc.," from French épisode or directly from Greek epeisodion "an episode," literally "an addition," noun use of neuter of epeisodios "coming in besides," from epi "in addition" (see epi-) + eisodos "a coming in, entrance" (from PIE root *en "in").

The second element is a compound of eis "into" + hodos "a way, path; a journey; a method, system," a word of uncertain origin (see Exodus). Transferred sense of "outstanding incident, experience" first recorded in English 1773. Transferred by 1930s to individual broadcasts of serial radio programs.

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middle name (n.)

"portion of a personal name between the given name and the surname," 1815, from middle (adj.) + name (n.). As "one's outstanding characteristic," colloquial, from 1911, American English.

According to Mr. H.A. Hamilton, in his "Quarter Sessions from Queen Elizabeth," the practice of giving children two Christian names was unknown in England before the period of the Stuarts, was rarely adopted down to the time of the Revolution, and never became common until after the Hanoverian family was seated on the throne. "In looking through so many volumes of county records," he says, "I have, of course, seen many thousands and tens of thousands of proper names, belonging to men of all ranks and degrees,—to noblemen, justices, jurymen, witnesses, sureties, innkeepers, hawkers, paupers, vagrants, criminals, and others,—and in no single instance, down to the end of the reign of Anne, have I noticed any person bearing more than one Christian name ...." [Walsh] 
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lucus a non lucendo 

a phrase that stands for "absurd etymology," or generally "anything illogical, outrageous hypothesis," 1711, from the Latin phrase, taken as the outstanding example of such an error.

"A grove (lucus) [is so called] from not (a non) being light" (lucendo, ablative of lucere "to shine;" see light (n.)). That is, it is called a grove because light doesn't get into it. This explanation is found in a commentary on Virgil (Aeneid 1.22) by Servius, a 4th century grammarian, among other places. Other ancient grammarians (notably Quintilian) found it paradoxical and absurd, based on nothing more than the similarity in sound between the two words.

Modern scholarship, however, concludes that lucus and lucere probably do come both from the same PIE root (*leuk-) meaning "light, bright." De Vaan writes: "Lucus 'sacred grove, wood,' from PIE *louk-o- 'light place,' with cognates in Sanskrit loka- 'free space, world,' Lithuanian laukas 'field, land,' Latvian lauks 'field, clearing in the woods,' Old High German loh 'clearing' and English lea 'open field, meadow, piece of untilled grassy ground.' " Apparently the primeval notion in *louk-o- was a lighter place in a thick forest. Migration, change of climate, or felling of the woods might have shifted the meaning.

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ace (n.)

c. 1300, "one at dice," from Old French as "one at dice" (12c.), from Latin as "a unit, one, a whole, unity;" also the name of a small Roman coin (originally a rectangular bronze plaque weighing one pound, it eventually was reduced by depreciation to half an ounce; in imperial times it became a round coin). The Latin word also is the source of Spanish as, Italian asso, German ass, Dutch aas, Danish es. It is perhaps originally Etruscan and related to Greek heis "one" (from PIE root *sem- (1) "one, as one"), or it might be taken directly into Latin from the Greek word.

In English, it meant the side of the die with only one mark before it meant the playing card with one pip (1530s). Because this was the lowest roll at dice, ace was used metaphorically in Middle English for "bad luck" or "something of no value;" but as the ace often is the highest playing card, the extended senses based on "excellence, good quality" arose 18c. as card-playing became popular. Ace in the hole in the figurative sense of "concealed advantage" is attested from 1904, from crooked stud poker deals.

Meaning "outstanding pilot" dates from 1917 (technically, in World War I aviators' jargon, one who has brought down 10 enemy planes, though originally in reference to 5 shot down), from French l'ace (1915), which, according to Bruce Robertson (ed.) "Air Aces of the 1914-1918 War" was used in prewar French sporting publications for "top of the deck" boxers, cyclists, etc. Sports meaning "point scored" (1819) led to sense of "unreturnable serve" (by 1889).

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