name for the basic monetary unit of a pan-European currency, from 1996.
unit of force, 1904, named in honor of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Related: Newtonian.
unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second, 1928, named in reference to German physicist Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894). Related: Hertzian.
1620s, "of Delos," the tiny island in the Aegean that was the reputed birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Delian problem "find the length of the side of a cube having double the volume of a given cube," was set by the oracle at Delos when it answered (430 B.C.E.) that the plague in Athens would end when Apollo's (cube-shaped) altar was doubled. The Latin fem. form of the word became the proper name Delia.
unit of length equal to one hundred millionth of a centimeter (used to measure wavelengths of light), 1892, named for Swedish physicist Anders Ångström (1814-1874).
in reference to the polio vaccine, 1955, from name of Russian-born U.S. microbiologist Albert B. Sabin (1906-1993), who developed it. As a unit of sound absorption by 1934, for U.S. physicist Wallace C. Sabine (1868-1919), founder of architectural acoustics.
also Kruger rand, 1967, South African gold coin (issued for investment purposes) bearing a portrait of Transvaal President Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (1825-1904); second element is rand, unit of decimal currency introduced in Republic of South Africa 1961, named for The Rand, gold-mining area in Transvaal, short for Witwatersrand (see rand).
zodiac constellation represented by a pair of scales, late Old English, from Latin libra "a balance, pair of scales," also "pound (unit of weight)," from Proto-Italic *leithra- "pound." De Vaan compares Greek litra "name of a Sicilian coin," which "was probably borrowed from an Italic language at the stage containing [-thr-]."
Not a separate constellation in ancient Greece, where it was khelae, "the claws" of adjacent Skorpios. Nativized in Old Norse as skala-merki. Meaning "person born under the sign of Libra" is from 1894. Related: Libral; Libran.
masc. proper name, from Old French Guillebert (from Old High German Williberht, literally "a bright will") or Old French Gilebert, from Gisilbert, literally "a bright pledge," from Old High German gisil "pledge," a Celtic loan-word (compare Old Irish giall "pledge") + beorht "bright" (from PIE root *bhereg- "to shine; bright, white."). It was the common name for a male cat (especially in short form Gib) from c. 1400 (see Tom). As a unit of magneto-motive force, it honors English physicist William Gilbert (1544-1603). For the Gilbert Islands, see Kiribati.
1937, coined in the fantasy tales of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973).
On a blank leaf I scrawled: 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.' I did not and do not know why. [Tolkien, letter to W.H. Auden, dated 1955]
The word also turns up in a very long list of folkloric supernatural creatures in the writings of Michael Aislabie Denham (d. 1859) as an aside to his explanation that those born on Christmas Eve cannot see spirits. Denham was an early folklorist who concentrated on Northumberland, Durham, Westmoreland, Cumberland, the Isle of Man, and Scotland. This was printed in volume 2 of "The Denham Tracts" [ed. James Hardy, London: Folklore Society, 1895], a compilation of Denham's scattered publications.
What a happiness this must have been seventy or eighty years ago and upwards, to those chosen few who had the good luck to be born on the eve of this festival of all festivals; when the whole earth was so overrun with ghosts, boggles, bloody-bones, spirits, demons, ignis fatui, brownies, bugbears, black dogs, specters, shellycoats, scarecrows, witches, wizards, barguests, Robin-Goodfellows, hags, night-bats, scrags, breaknecks, fantasms, hobgoblins, hobhoulards, boggy-boes, dobbies, hob-thrusts, fetches, kelpies, warlocks, mock-beggars, mum-pokers, Jemmy-burties, urchins, satyrs, pans, fauns, sirens, tritons, centaurs, calcars, nymphs, imps, incubuses, spoorns, men-in-the-oak, hell-wains, fire-drakes, kit-a-can-sticks, Tom-tumblers, melch-dicks, larrs, kitty-witches, hobby-lanthorns, Dick-a-Tuesdays, Elf-fires, Gyl-burnt-tales, knockers, elves, rawheads, Meg-with-the-wads, old-shocks, ouphs, pad-foots, pixies, pictrees, giants, dwarfs, Tom-pokers, tutgots, snapdragons, sprets, spunks, conjurers, thurses, spurns, tantarrabobs, swaithes, tints, tod-lowries, Jack-in-the-Wads, mormos, changelings, redcaps, yeth-hounds, colt-pixies, Tom-thumbs, black-bugs, boggarts, scar-bugs, shag-foals, hodge-pochers, hob-thrushes, bugs, bull-beggars, bygorns, bolls, caddies, bomen, brags, wraiths, waffs, flay-boggarts, fiends, gallytrots, imps, gytrashes, patches, hob-and-lanthorns, gringes, boguests, bonelesses, Peg-powlers, pucks, fays, kidnappers, gallybeggars, hudskins, nickers, madcaps, trolls, robinets, friars' lanthorns, silkies, cauld-lads, death-hearses, goblins, hob-headlesses, bugaboos, kows, or cowes, nickies, nacks necks, waiths, miffies, buckies, ghouls, sylphs, guests, swarths, freiths, freits, gy-carlins Gyre-carling, pigmies, chittifaces, nixies, Jinny-burnt-tails, dudmen, hell-hounds, dopple-gangers, boggleboes, bogies, redmen, portunes, grants, hobbits, hobgoblins, brown-men, cowies, dunnies, wirrikows, alholdes, mannikins, follets, korreds, lubberkins, cluricauns, kobolds, leprechauns, kors, mares, korreds, puckles korigans, sylvans, succubuses, blackmen, shadows, banshees, lian-hanshees, clabbernappers, Gabriel-hounds, mawkins, doubles, corpse lights or candles, scrats, mahounds, trows, gnomes, sprites, fates, fiends, sibyls, nicknevins, whitewomen, fairies, thrummy-caps, cutties, and nisses, and apparitions of every shape, make, form, fashion, kind and description, that there was not a village in England that had not its own peculiar ghost. Nay, every lone tenement, castle, or mansion-house, which could boast of any antiquity had its bogle, its specter, or its knocker. The churches, churchyards, and crossroads were all haunted. Every green lane had its boulder-stone on which an apparition kept watch at night. Every common had its circle of fairies belonging to it. And there was scarcely a shepherd to be met with who had not seen a spirit!
[Emphasis added] It is curious that the name occurs nowhere else in folklore, and there is no evidence that Tolkien ever saw this. The word also was recorded from 1835 as "a term generally used in Wales to express a quantity made up of four Welsh pecks" [in English court records for Hughes vs. Humphreys, a weights-and-measures case]. Hobbitry attested from 1947.