"gigantic statue," late 14c., from Latin colossus "a statue larger than life," from Greek kolossos "gigantic statue," which is of unknown origin. The Greek word was used by Herodotus of giant Egyptian statues and by Romans of the bronze Helios at the entrance to the harbor of Rhodes. Figurative sense of "any thing of awesome greatness or vastness" is from 1794.
Helios, the sun, is a god everywhere; there was a scandal when Anaxagoras dared to call him a glowing clod. But the island of Rhodes is almost the only place where Helios enjoys an important cult; ... the largest Greek statue in bronze, the Colossus of Rhodes, is a representation of Helios. [Walter Burkert, "Greek Religion"]
"the science of the inward and essential nature of things," 1560s, plural of Middle English metaphisik, methaphesik (late 14c.), "branch of speculation which deals with the first causes of things," from Medieval Latin metaphysica, neuter plural of Medieval Greek (ta) metaphysika, from Greek ta meta ta physika "the (works) after the Physics," title of the 13 treatises which traditionally were arranged after those on physics and natural sciences in Aristotle's writings. See meta- + physics.
The name was given c.70 B.C.E. by Andronicus of Rhodes, and was a reference to the customary ordering of the books, but it was misinterpreted by Latin writers as meaning "the science of what is beyond the physical." The word originally was used in English in the singular; the plural form predominated after 17c., but singular made a comeback late 19c. in certain usages under German influence. From 17c. also sometimes "philosophy in general," especially "the philosophical study of the mind, psychology."
"maker of pots, one whose occupation is the making of earthenware vessels" (they also sometimes doubled as bell-founders), late Old English pottere "potter," reinforced by Old French potier (Anglo-French poter) "potter," both from the root of pot (n.1). As a surname from late 12c. An older Old English word for "potter" was crocwyrhta "crock-wright."
Potter's field "piece of ground reserved as a burying place for friendless paupers, unknown persons, and criminals" (1520s; early 14c. as potter's place) is Biblical (Matthew xxvii.7), a ground where clay suitable for pottery was dug, later purchased by high priests of Jerusalem as a burying ground for strangers, criminals, and the poor. [Purchased with the coins paid to Judas for betraying Jesus; these being considered blood money it was then known in Aramaic as Akeldema, "field of blood."]
The ancient Athenian city cemetery also was a "potterville" (Kerameikos), and there seems to have been an ancient association of potters' workshops with burial places (Argos, Rhodes, etc.; see John H. Oakley (ed.), "Athenian Potters and Painters," vol. III, 2014). Perhaps both were kept away from the inhabited districts for public safety reasons (disease on the one hand and on the other fires sparked by the kilns).
mid-14c., "a plotting of evil, unlawful design; a combination of persons for an evil purpose," from Anglo-French conspiracie, Old French conspiracie "conspiracy, plot," from Latin conspirationem (nominative conspiratio) "agreement, union, unanimity," noun of action from past-participle stem of conspirare "to agree, unite, plot," literally "to breathe together" (see conspire).
Earlier in same sense was conspiration (early 14c.), from French conspiration (13c.), from Latin conspirationem. An Old English word for it was facengecwis.
Conspiracy theory "explanation of an event or situation involving unwarranted belief that it is caused by a conspiracy among powerful forces" emerged in mid-20c. (by 1937) and figures in the writings of, or about, Charles Beard, Hofstadter, Veblen, etc., but the degree of paranoia and unreasonableness implied in each use is not always easy to discern. The phrase was used from 19c. in a non-pejorative sense "the theory that a (certain) conspiracy exists," especially in court cases. Its use in general reference to theories of hidden cabals pulling wires behind the scenes of national or global events is by 1871.
We shall better understand the ensuing civil war if we study the movements in the four most important of these States, in relation to a theory which asserts that the secession was a conspiracy whose central cabal, composed of Southern senators and representatives in Washington, dictated through its ramifications in the States the inception and the course of the revolution. [James Ford Rhodes, page headed "The Conspiracy Theory" in "History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850," New York, 1893]
To the Jingo Imperialist "the South African Conspiracy" is the alleged Dutch conspiracy to drive the British into the sea. But, to the man accustomed to weigh evidence and to base his opinions on ascertained facts, it is clear that this conspiracy theory is absolutely untenable, for whatever "evidence" has been adduced in support of the theory is nebulous and shadowy in the extreme. ["The South African Conspiracy," in The Westminster Review, January 1902]