"disease characterized by eruptive sores," late 15c., spelling alteration of pockes (late 13c. in this sense), plural of pocke "pustule" (see pock (n.)). Especially (after c. 1500) of syphilis.
acute, highly contagious disease, 1510s, small pokkes, as distinguished from great pox "syphilis;" from small-pock "pustule caused by smallpox" (mid-15c.); see small (adj.) + pox. Compare French petite vérole. Fatal in a quarter to a third of unvaccinated cases, it could persist in clothes or other contaminated articles for months or years.
"pustule raised on the surface of the body in an eruptive disease," Middle English pok, from Old English pocc "pustule, blister, ulcer," from Proto-Germanic *puh(h)- "to swell up, blow up" (source also of Middle Dutch pocke, Dutch pok, East Frisian pok, Low German poche, dialectal German Pfoche), from PIE root *beu- "to swell, to blow" (see bull (n.2)).
French pocque is from Germanic. The plural form, Middle English pokkes "disease characterized by pustules" (late 14c.) is the source of pox.
"chicken-pox," medical Latin, 1764, irregular diminutive of variola (see variola). Related: Varicellous.
slang phrase meaning, more or less, "I don't care, I don't worry," 1913, of unknown origin, but perhaps derived from Yiddish nisht gefidlt. Said to have been popularized by comedienne Fanny Brice (1891-1951), but earliest references do not mention her.
Chicken pox doesn't poison the wellsprings of one's existence like 'Ish kabibble,' and 'I should worry.!' Do you think it's any fun to bring up children to speak decent English, and then have their conversation strewed with phrases like that and with ain'ts? Do you think I like to hear Robert talking about his little friends as 'de guys' and 'de ginks?' [Mary Heaton Vorse, "Their Little Friends," in Woman's Home Companion, February 1916]
also doggone, colloquial minced epithet, by 1849, Western American English, a "fantastic perversion of god-damned" [Weekley]. But Mencken favors the theory that it is "a blend form of dog on it; in fact it is still often used with it following. It is thus a brother to the old English phrase, 'a pox upon it,' but is considerably more decorous." Dog on it was the usual early spelling, so it was perhaps at least felt as such by those using it.
But there are many examples of similar words serving as euphemistic perversions of God: Compare dod for "God" in many oaths (late 17c. through 19c.); dodgasted (probably "God-blasted," in use late 19c., early 20c.); dod-rot (1842).
"narrow track worn or cut in the ground," as by a passing wheeled vehicle, 1570s, probably from Middle English route "way, a road, space for passage" (see route (n.)); though OED finds this "improbable." If so, it is a doublet of route.
Of the lines on the face by 1620s. The figurative meaning "narrow, monotonous routine; habitual mode of behavior or procedure" is attested by 1839 (Carlyle); earlier figurative use was as an obstacle to rapid transit (1705).
Enter an OLD LADY.
[Bosola] You come from painting now.
Old Lady. From what?
Bos. Why, from your scurvy face-physic.
To behold thee not painted, inclines somewhat near
A miracle: these in thy face here, were deep ruts,
And foul sloughs, the last progress.
There was a lady in France, that having the small-pox,
Flay'd the skin off her face, to make it more level;
And whereas before she looked like a nutmeg-grater,
After she resembled an abortive hedgehog.
[Webster, "The Duchess of Malfi"]
The verb meaning "mark with or as with ruts" is by c. 1600. Related: Rutted; rutting.