Etymology
Advertisement
Ruth 
fem. proper name, biblical ancestor of David, from Hebrew Ruth, probably a contraction of reuth "companion, friend, fellow woman." The Old Testament book tells her story.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
Barn-burner (n.)
also barnburner, by 1844, American English, a member of the more progressive faction of the New York Democratic Party (opposed to the Hunkers); the nickname is an allusion to the old story of the farmer who, to rid his barn of rats, burned it down.
Related entries & more 
Kilkenny 
county in Leinster, Ireland. The county is named for its town, from Irish Cill Chainnigh "Church of (St.) Kenneth" (see kil-). The story of the Kilkenny cats, a pair of which fought until only their tails were left, is attested from 1807.
Related entries & more 
Barabbas 
biblical masc. proper name, Greek Barabbas, from Aramaic (Semitic) barabba, "son of the father," or "son of the master." In Hebrew, it would be ben abh. In the Crucifixion story, the name of the prisoner freed instead of Jesus at the crowd's insistence.
Related entries & more 
Griselda 
fem. proper name, from Italian, from German Grishilda, from Old High German grisja hilda, literally "gray battle-maid" (see gray (adj.) + Hilda). The English form, Grisilde, provided Chaucer's Grizel, the name of the meek, patient wife in the Clerk's Tale, the story and the name both from Boccaccio.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
Goldilocks (n.)
name for a person with bright yellow hair, 1540s, from goldy (adj.) "of a golden color" (mid-15c., from gold (n.)) + plural of lock (n.2). The story of the Three Bears first was printed in Robert Southey's miscellany "The Doctor" (1837), but the central figure there was a bad-tempered old woman. Southey did not claim to have invented the story, and older versions have been traced, either involving an old woman or a "silver-haired" girl (though in at least one version it is a fox who enters the house). The identification of the girl as Goldilocks is attested from c. 1875. Goldylocks also is attested from 1570s as a name for the buttercup.
Related entries & more 
Scrooge (n.)

generic for "miser," by 1905, from curmudgeonly employer in Dickens' 1843 story "A Christmas Carol." It does not appear to be a genuine English surname; in old dictionaries it is an 18c. variant of scrouge "to squeeze, press, crowd (someone)," also scrudge, etc., an 18c. provincial word that is the source of scrounge.

Related entries & more 
Job 
Biblical masc. proper name, name of an ancient patriarch whose story forms a book of the Old Testament, from Hebrew Iyyobh, which according to some scholars is literally "hated, persecuted," from ayyabh "he was hostile to," related to ebhah "enmity." Others say it means "the penitent one." Figurative of bad news, destitution, and patient endurance. Hence Job's comforter, of one who brings news of additional misfortune (1736).
Related entries & more 
Aeneas 
hero of the "Aeneid," son of Anchises and Aphrodite, Latin, from Greek Aineias, a name of unknown origin, perhaps literally "praise-worthy," from ainos "tale, story, saying, praise" (related to enigma); or perhaps related to ainos "horrible, terrible." The epic poem title Aeneid (late 15c. in English) is literally "of or pertaining to Aeneas," from French Enéide, Latin Æneida; see -id.
Related entries & more 
Walter 
masc. proper name, from Old North French Waltier (Old French Gualtier, Modern French Gautier), of Germanic origin and cognate with Old High German Walthari, Walthere, literally "ruler of the army," from waltan "to rule" (from Proto-Germanic *waldan, from PIE root *wal- "to be strong") + hari "host, army" (see harry). Walter Mitty (1939) is from title character in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by U.S. short story writer James Thurber (1894-1961).
Related entries & more