1909, proprietary name (Skee-Ball Alley Company, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.), the first element said to represent the old alternative spelling of ski (v.).
Skee ball bowling, in which the ball is jumped or skeed into the pockets in the same manner as a skee-jumper rises from the bump in his flight, is a new and unique hand-ball game that seems destined to great popularity. [Popular Mechanics, July 1909]
proprietary name of a type of ball-point pen, 1947, from László Bíró, the Hungarian inventor. The surname means "judge."
hollow, perforated plastic ball, registered trademark name (The Wiffle Ball Inc., Shelton, Connecticut, U.S.), claiming use from 1954. According to the company, designed in 1953 by David N. Mullany "in response to a lack of field space and numerous broken windows by his baseball-playing son," the name based on whiff (q.v.), baseball slang for a missed swing.
popular type of plastic ball-point pen, designed c. 1950 in France, named 1953 as a shortened form of the name of company co-founder Marcel Bich (1914-1994).
material which in thin sheets produces a high degree of plane polarization of light passing through it, 1936, proprietary name (Sheet Polarizer Co., Union City, N.J.). For the elements, see polarize + -oid. As a type of camera producing prints rapidly it is attested from 1961. A trademarked brand name, and, if you omit that, their lawyers will send you The Letter, a la Photoshop, Dumpster, Taser, Wiffle Ball, Xerox, etc.
Mexican province, briefly an independent nation and now a U.S. state, from Spanish Texas, Tejas, earlier pronounced "ta-shas," originally an ethnic name, from Caddo (eastern Texas Indian tribe) taysha "friends, allies," written by the Spanish as a plural. Related: Texan. The alternative form Texian is attested from 1835 and was the prevailing form in U.S. newspapers before 1844.
The baseball Texas-leaguer "ball popped up just over the head of the infielders and falling too close for outfielders to catch" is recorded from 1905, named for the minor league that operated in Texas from 1902 (one theory is that outfielders played unusually deep in Texas because hit balls bounced hard off the hard, sun-baked ground).
1879 as colloquial shortening of Metropolitan (n.) "member of the New York Metropolitan Base-Ball Club."
THE baseball season has opened, and along with the twittering of the birds, the budding of the trees, and the clattering of the truck, comes the news that the "Mets were beaten yesterday 17 to 5." It is an infallible sign of spring when the Mets are beaten 17 to 5, and we invariably put on our thinner clothing when we read that refreshing, though perennial news in the papers. [Life magazine, May 12, 1887]
Used variously to abbreviate other proper names beginning with Metropolitan, such as "Metropolitan Museum of Art" (N.Y.), by 1919; "Metropolitan Railway" (stock), by 1890; "Metropolitan Opera Company (N.Y.), by 1922. Related: Mets.
eleventh Roman letter, from Greek kappa, from Phoenician kaph or a similar Semitic source, said to mean literally "hollow of the hand" and to be so called for its shape.
Little used in classical Latin, which at an early age conformed most of its words (the exceptions had ritual importance) to a spelling using -c- (a character derived from Greek gamma). In Late Latin, pronunciation of -c- shifted (in the direction of "s"). Greek names brought into Latin also were regularized with a -c- spelling, and then underwent the Late Latin sound-shift; hence the modern pronunciation of Cyrus, Circe. To keep their pronunciation clear, the many Greek words (often Church words) that entered Latin after this shift tended to take Latin -k- for Greek kappa.
K- thus became a supplementary letter to -c- in Medieval Latin, used with Greek and foreign words. But most of the languages descended from Latin had little need of it, having evolved other solutions to the sound shifts.
K- also was scarce in Old English. After the Norman conquest, new scribal habits restricted -c- and expanded the use of -k-, which began to be common in English spelling from 13c. This probably was done because the sound value of -c- was evolving in French and the other letter was available to clearly mark the "k" sound for scribes working in English. For more, see C.
In words transliterated from Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Japanese, Hawaiian, etc., it represents several different sounds lumped. In modern use some of them are now with kh-; in older borrowings they often followed traditional English spelling and were written with a C- (Corea, Caaba, etc.).
As a symbol for potassium, it represents Latin kalium "potash." In CMYK as a color system for commercial printing it means "black" but seems to stand for key in a specialized printing sense. Slang meaning "one thousand dollars" is 1970s, from kilo-. K as a measure of capacity (especially in computer memory) meaning "one thousand" also is an abbreviation of kilo-.
As an indication of "strikeout" in baseball score-keeping it dates from 1874 and is said to represent the last letter of struck. The invention of the scorecard symbols is attributed to English-born U.S. newspaperman Henry Chadwick (1824-1908) principally of the old New York "Clipper," who had been writing baseball since 1858, and who explained it thus:
Smith was the first striker, and went out on three strikes, which is recorded by the figure "1" for the first out, and the letter K to indicate how put out, K being the last letter of the word "struck." The letter K is used in this instance as being easier to remember in connection with the word struck than S, the first letter, would be. [Henry Chadwick, "Chadwick's Base Ball Manual," London, 1874]