Etymology
Advertisement
theory (n.)

1590s, "conception, mental scheme," from Late Latin theoria (Jerome), from Greek theōria "contemplation, speculation; a looking at, viewing; a sight, show, spectacle, things looked at," from theōrein "to consider, speculate, look at," from theōros "spectator," from thea "a view" (see theater) + horan "to see," which is possibly from PIE root *wer- (3) "to perceive." Philosophy credits sense evolution in the Greek word to Pythagoras.

Earlier in this sense was theorical (n.), late 15c. Sense of "principles or methods of a science or art" (rather than its practice) is first recorded 1610s (as in music theory, which is the science of musical composition, apart from practice or performance). Sense of "an intelligible explanation based on observation and reasoning" is from 1630s.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
scapegoat (n.)

1530, "goat sent into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement as a symbolic bearer of the sins of the people," coined by Tyndale from scape, a shortening of escape (see scape (v.)) + goat; the whole word translating Latin caper emissarius, itself a translation in Vulgate of Hebrew 'azazel (Leviticus xvi.8, 10, 26), which was read as 'ez ozel "goat that departs," but which others hold to be the proper name of a devil or demon in Jewish mythology (sometimes identified with Canaanite deity Aziz).

Jerome's reading was followed by Martin Luther (der ledige Bock), Symmachus (tragos aperkhomenos), and others (compare French bouc émissaire), but the question of who, or what (or even where) is meant by 'azazel is a vexed one. The Revised Version (1884) simply restores Azazel. But the old translation has its modern defenders:

Azazel is an active participle or participial noun, derived ultimately from azal (connected with the Arabic word azala, and meaning removed), but immediately from the reduplicate form of that verb, azazal. The reduplication of the consonants of the root in Hebrew and Arabic gives the force of repetition, so that while azal means removed, azalzal means removed by a repetition of acts. Azalzel or azazel, therefore, means one who removes by a series of acts. ... The interpretation is founded on sound etymological grounds, it suits the context wherever the word occurs, it is consistent with the remaining ceremonial of the Day of Atonement, and it accords with the otherwise known religious beliefs and symbolical practices of the Israelites. [Rev. F. Meyrick, "Leviticus," London, 1882]

The transferred meaning "one who is blamed or punished for the mistakes or sins of others" is recorded by 1824; the verb is attested by 1884. Related: Scapegoated; scapegoating.

For the formation, compare scapegrace (which is perhaps modeled on this word), also scape-gallows "one who deserves hanging," scapethrift "spendthrift" (mid-15c.).

Related entries & more 
scapegrace (n.)

"man of reckless or disorderly habits," 1767, from scape (v.) + grace (n.); as if it meant "one who escapes the grace of God." Possibly influenced by scapegoat.

Related entries & more 
theorist (n.)

"one given to theory and speculation," 1590s; see theory + -ist.

Related entries & more 
theoretical (adj.)

1610s, "contemplative," with -al (1) + Late Latin theoreticus "of or pertaining to theory," from Greek theoretikos "contemplative, speculative, pertaining to theory" (by Aristotle contrasted to praktikos), from theoretos "that may be seen or considered," from theorein "to consider, look at" (see theory). Meaning "pertaining to theory, making deductions from theory not from fact" (opposed to practical) is from 1650s; earlier in this sense was theorical (c. 1500). Meaning "ideal, hypothetical" is from 1790s (implied in theoretically). Related: theoretician.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
incase (v.)

variant of encase.

Theory of Incasement, an old theory of reproduction which assumed that when the first animal of each species was created, the germs of all other individuals of the same species which were to come from it were incased in its ova. The discovery of spermatozoa developed the theory in two opposite directions: the ovulists, or ovists, held still to the theory of incasement in the female while the animalculists, or spermists, entertained the theory of incasement in the male. [Century Dictionary]
Related entries & more 
theorize (v.)

1630s, perhaps a formation in English from theory + -ize. Related: Theorized; theorizing.

Related entries & more 
educationist (n.)

"one versed in the theory and practice of education," 1815; see education + -ist.

Related entries & more 
cladism (n.)

"theory or practice of cladistic taxonomy," 1966, from clade + -ism. Related: Cladist.

Related entries & more 
phonemic (adj.)

"of or pertaining to phonemes or phonemic theory," 1933, from phoneme + -ic. Related: Phonemics (1936); phonemically.

Related entries & more