Etymology
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puny (adj.)

1570s, "inferior in rank" (1540s as a noun, "junior pupil, freshman"), senses now obsolete, from French puisné (Modern French puîné), from Old French puisne "born later, younger, youngest" (12c., contrasted with aisné "first-born").

This is from puis nez, from puis "afterward" (from Vulgar Latin *postius, from Latin postea "after this, hereafter," from post "after," see post-, + ea "there") + Old French "born," from Latin natus, past participle of nasci "be born" (Old Latin gnasci; from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget"). Compare puisne.

The sense of "small, weak, insignificant, imperfectly developed in size or strength" is recorded from 1590s. Related: Puniness.

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puisne (adj.)

"junior, younger; inferior in rank," c. 1300 in Anglo-Latin, from Old French puisné "born later, younger, youngest" (see puny). As a noun from 1590s, "a junior, an inferior," especially "a judge of inferior rank."

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lordling (n.)
"puny or contemptible lord," late 13c., from lord (n.) + -ling.
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shrimp (n.)
early 14c., "slender, edible marine crustacean," probably from Old Norse skreppa "thin person," from Proto-Germanic *skrimp- (see scrimp). Related to Old English scrimman "to shrink;" the connecting notion is probably "thinness" (compare Danish dialectal skrimpe "thin cattle"). The meaning "puny person" in English is attested from late 14c.; an especially puny one might be a shrimplet (1680s).
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corpuscle (n.)

1650s, "any small particle," from Latin corpusculum "a puny body; an atom, particle," diminutive of corpus "body" (from PIE root *kwrep- "body, form, appearance"); for ending see -cule. In anatomy, "a microscopic body regarded by itself" (1741); applied to blood cells by 1845 (short for blood-corpuscle). Related: Corpuscular.

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caitiff (adj.)
c. 1300, "wicked, base, cowardly," from Old North French caitive "captive, miserable" (Old French chaitif, 12c., Modern French chétif "puny, sickly, poor, weak"), from Latin captivus "caught, taken prisoner," from captus, past participle of capere "to take, hold, seize," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp." Its doublet, captive, is a later, scholarly borrowing of the same word. In most Romance languages, it has acquired a pejorative sense (Spanish cautivo, Italian cattivo).
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