1590s, "a private or personal matter, a secret;" c. 1600 as "seclusion, state of being in retirement from company or the knowledge and observation of others," from private (adj.) + abstract noun suffix -cy. Meaning "state of freedom from intrusion or interference" is from 1814. Earlier was privatie (late 14c. as "secret, mystery;" c. 1400 as "a secret, secret deed; solitude, privacy"), from Old French privauté.
early 13c., "a thing kept hidden or secret," also "privacy, private life; secrecy," from Old French privité, priveté "privacy; a secret, private matter" (c. 1200), from prive "private," from Latin privus "set apart, belonging to oneself" (see private (adj.)).
From 1550s as "participation in the knowledge of something secret;" from 1520s as a legal term in feudal land tenure. Privities "private parts" is attested by late 14c.
1530s, of armies, "to retreat, draw back," also, of persons, "to withdraw" to some place, especially for the sake of privacy; from French retirer "to withdraw (something)," from re- "back" (see re-) + Old French tirer "to draw" (see tirade). Related: Retired; retiring.
The sense of "leave one's business or occupation" is by 1660s. The meaning "to leave company and go to bed" is from 1660s. Transitive sense is from 1540s, originally "withdraw, lead back" (troops, etc.); meaning "to remove from active service" is from 1680s. Baseball sense of "to put out" (a batter or team) is recorded by 1874.
1590s, "act of retreating, act of falling back," also "act of withdrawing into seclusion," from French retirement (1570s); see retire + -ment. Meaning "privacy, state of being withdrawn from society" is from c. 1600; that of "withdrawal from occupation or business" is from 1640s.
Solitude is the condition of being absolutely alone, whether or not one has been with others, or desires to escape from them .... Retirement is comparative solitude, produced by retiring, voluntarily or otherwise, from contact which one has had with others. Seclusion is stronger than retirement, implying the shutting out of others from access .... [Century Dictionary]
c. 1300, parlur, "apartment in a monastery for conversations with outside persons," earlier "window through which confessions were made" (c. 1200), from Old French parleor "courtroom, judgment hall, auditorium" (12c., Modern French parloir), from parler "to speak" (see parley (n.)).
The sense developed by late 14c. to "room off a main hall offering some privacy," by early 15c. to "public room of a private house," by 16c. to "the ordinary sitting room of a family." The meaning "show room for a business" (as in ice cream parlor) is by 1884. As an adjective, "advocating radical views from a position of comfort" (as in parlor socialist) is by 1900.
Of every great and eminent character, part breaks forth into public view, and part lies hid in domestic privacy. Those qualities which have been exerted in any known and lasting performances may, at any distance of time, be traced and estimated; but silent excellencies are soon forgotten; and those minute peculiarities which discriminate every man from all others, if the are not recorded by those whom personal knowledge enabled to observe them, are irrecoverably lost. [Johnson, "Life of Sir Thomas Browne," 1756]
Old English dweorh, dweorg (West Saxon), duerg (Mercian), "very short human being, person much below ordinary stature, whether of proportionate parts or not," also "supernatural being of subhuman size," from Proto-Germanic *dweraz (source also of Old Frisian dwerch, Old Saxon dwerg, Old High German twerg, German Zwerg, Old Norse dvergr), perhaps from PIE *dhwergwhos "something tiny," but with no established cognates outside Germanic.
Also used by c. 1200 of an animal or plant much below the ordinary size of its species." The use of dwarf in the Germanic mythological sense, "a diminished and generally deformed being, dwelling in rocks and hills and skilled in working metals," seems to have faded after Middle English and been revived after c. 1770 from German.
Whilst in this and other ways the dwarfs do at times have dealings with mankind, yet on the whole they seem to shrink from man; they give the impression of a downtrodden afflicted race, which is on the point of abandoning its ancient home to new and more powerful invaders. There is stamped on their character something shy and something heathenish, which estranges them from intercourse with christians. They chafe at human faithlessness, which no doubt would primarily mean the apostacy from heathenism. In the poems of the Mid. Ages, Laurin is expressly set before us as a heathen. It goes sorely against the dwarfs to see churches built, bell-ringing ... disturbs their ancient privacy; they also hate the clearing of forests, agriculture, new fangled pounding-machinery for ore. ["Teutonic Mythology," Jakob Grimm, transl. Stallybrass, 1883]
The shift of the Old English guttural at the end of the word to modern -f is typical (compare enough, draft) and begins to appear early 14c. In Middle English it also was dwerþ, dwerke. Old English plural dweorgas became Middle English dwarrows, later leveled down to dwarfs. The use of dwarves for the legendary race was popularized by J.R.R. Tolkien. As an adjective, from 1590s.
The use of giant and dwarf in reference to stars of the highest and lowest luminosity is attested by 1914, said to have been suggested by Danish astronomer Ejnar Hertzsprung, (1873-1967); hence red dwarf (attested by 1922), white dwarf, black dwarf "dead and lightless star" (1966).