Old English wrað "angry" (literally "tormented, twisted"), from Proto-Germanic *wraith- (source also of Old Frisian wreth "evil," Old Saxon wred, Middle Dutch wret, Dutch wreed "cruel," Old High German reid, Old Norse reiðr "angry, offended"), from *wreit-, from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend." Rare or obsolete from early 16c. to mid-19c., but somewhat revived since, especially in dignified writing, or this:
Secretary: "The Dean is furious. He's waxing wroth."
Quincy Adams Wagstaf [Groucho]: "Is Roth out there too? Tell Roth to wax the Dean for a while."
["Horse Feathers," 1932]
1830, "extensive or particular use of 'r'," from Modern Latin rhotacismus, from Greek rhotakizein, from rho "the letter -r-," from Hebrew or Phoenician roth (see R). Especially excessive use of the "r" sound (the "burr"). Also (1844) of the conversion of another sound, usually "s" to "r" (as in Aeolian Greek, which at the end of words changed -s to -r: hippor for hippos, etc.). Related: Rhotacize; rhotacization.
"large marsupial mammal of Australia," 1770, used by Capt. Cook and botanist Joseph Banks (who first reported the species to Europeans), supposedly representing a native word from northeast Queensland, Australia, but often said to be unknown now in any native language. However, according to Australian linguist R.M.W. Dixon ("The Languages of Australia," Cambridge, 1980), the word probably is from Guugu Yimidhirr (Endeavour River-area Aborigine language) /gaNurru/ "large black kangaroo."
In 1898 the pioneer ethnologist W.E. Roth wrote a letter to the Australasian pointing out that gang-oo-roo did mean 'kangaroo' in Guugu Yimidhirr, but this newspaper correspondence went unnoticed by lexicographers. Finally the observations of Cook and Roth were confirmed when in 1972 the anthropologist John Haviland began intensive study of Guugu Yimidhirr and again recorded /gaNurru/. [Dixon]
Kangaroo court is American English, first recorded 1850 in a Southwestern context (also mustang court), from notion of proceeding by leaps.
1731, from Medieval Latin rotarius "pertaining to wheels," from Latin rota "a wheel, a potter's wheel; wheel for torture," from PIE root *ret- "to run, to turn, to roll" (source also of Sanskrit rathah "car, chariot;" Avestan ratho; Lithuanian ratas "wheel," ritu "I roll;" Old Irish roth, Welsh rhod "carriage wheel"). The root also forms the common West Germanic word for "wheel" (originally "spoked wheel"): Old High German rad, German Rad, Dutch rad, Old Frisian reth, Old Saxon rath.
The international service club (founded by Paul P. Harris in Chicago in 1905) is so called from the practice of clubs entertaining in rotation. Hence Rotarian (1911).
"millionaire, rich person," 1833, in reference to the international banking family descended from Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) of Frankfurt. The surname is literally "red shield," a German house-name.
1590s, "offensive to the senses, or to taste and refinement," from French obscène (16c.), from Latin obscenus "offensive," especially to modesty, originally "boding ill, inauspicious," a word of unknown origin; perhaps from ob "in front of" (see ob-) + caenum "filth."
The meaning "offensive to modesty or decency, impure, unchaste" is attested from 1590s. Legally, "any impure or indecent publication tending to corrupt the mind and to subvert respect for decency and morality." In modern U.S. law, the definition hinged on "whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest." [Justice William Brennan, "Roth v. United States," June 24, 1957]; this was refined in 1973 by "Miller v. California":
The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.