1867, a member of a secret society in the mining districts of Pennsylvania (suppressed in 1876), which was named for an earlier secret society in Ireland (1843) formed to resist evictions and payment of rents and to terrorize those involved in the processes. From Molly (see Moll) + common Irish surname Maguire. There appears never to have been a specific Molly Maguire, but members were said to sometimes wear women's clothing as disguise, hence the name.
1970, proprietary name of a rocket-propelled short-range guided missile, trademarked 1970 by Société Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale, from French exocet "flying fish" (16c.), from Latin exocoetus, from Greek exokoitos "sleeping fish, fish that sleeps upon the beach," from exō "outside" (see exo-) + koitos "bed."
9c., Sumor sæton, from Old English sumorsæta, short for *sumorton sæte "the people who live at (or depend upon) Somerton," a settlement attested from 8c. (Sumertone), and meaning "summer settlement." In 12c. it begins to be unmistakably a place-name (Sumersetescir) not a collective name for a people.
also Anam, old alternative name for Vietnam, literally "pacified south," the name given to Nam Viet by the Chinese after they conquered it 111 B.C.E. From Chinese an "peace" + nan "south." It was discarded upon restoration of Viet independence in 939 C.E., but the name stuck in Western geographies and was reapplied to the region c. 1790 by the French. Related: Annamese.
1670s, from union + jack (n.); properly a small British union flag flown as the jack of a ship, but it has long been in use as a general name for the union flag. The Union flag (1630s) was introduced to symbolize the union of the crowns of England and Scotland (in 1603) and was formed of a combination of the cross saltire of St. Andrew and the cross of St. George. The cross saltire of St. Patrick was added 1801 upon the union of parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland.
mid-15c., "sweetheart chosen on St. Valentine's Day," from Late Latin Valentinus, the name of two early Italian saints (from Latin valentia "strength, capacity;" see valence). Choosing a sweetheart on this day originated 14c. as a custom in English and French court circles. Meaning "letter or card sent to a sweetheart" first recorded 1824. The romantic association of the day is said to be from it being around the time when birds choose their mates.
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd cometh there to chese his make.
[Chaucer, "Parlement of Foules," c. 1381]
Probably the date was the informal first day of spring in whatever French region invented the custom (many surviving medieval calendars reckon the start of spring on the 7th or 22nd of February). No evidence connects it with the Roman Lupercalia (an 18c. theory) or to any romantic or avian quality in either of the saints. The custom of sending special cards or letters on this date flourished in England c. 1840-1870, declined around the turn of the 20th century, and revived 1920s.
To speak of the particular Customs of the English Britons, I shall begin with Valentine's Day, Feb. 14. when young Men and Maidens get their several Names writ down upon Scrolls of Paper rolled up, and lay 'em asunder, the Men drawing the Maidens Names, and these the Mens; upon which, the Men salute their chosen Valentines and present them with Gloves, &c. This Custom (which sometimes introduces a Match) is grounded upon the Instinct of Animals, which about this Time of the Year, feeling a new Heat by the approach of the Sun, begin to couple. ["The Present State of Great Britain and Ireland" London, 1723]
mid-14c., Babilon, representing the Greek rendition of Akkadian Bab-ilani "the gate of the gods," from bab "gate" + ilani, plural of ilu "god" (compare Babel). The Old Persian form, Babiru-, shows characteristic transformation of -l- to -r- in words assimilated from Semitic.
The English word also was formerly applied by Protestants to the Church in Rome, in reference to the woman "arrayed in purple and scarlet" in Revelation xvii.5 ("And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth").
nation in southeastern Europe, Medieval Latin, from Bulgari "Bulgarians," traditionally explained as "the men from the Bolg," the River Volga, upon whose banks they lived until 6c. But evidence is wanting, and the people's name for themselves in Old Bulgarian was Blugarinu, according to OED and Century Dictionary, which suggests a different origin. In other sources [such as Room], the name is said to be ultimately from Turkic bulga "mixed," in reference to the nature of this people of Turko-Finnish extraction but Slavic language.
Biblical prophet (wicked, but not false) whose story is told in Numbers xxii-xxiv; figurative of "one who makes profession of religion for the sake of gain" from 1640s. Balaam's ass speaks in a human voice in Numbers xxii ("And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay."). In old newspaper jargon Balaam came to be used for paragraphs regarding marvelous or incredible events, used to fill out short columns (1826). The name is of uncertain origin.
"of, pertaining to, or resembling in any way Prometheus," 1580s, from Prometheus (q.v.) + -an. Before the introduction of modern matches (see lucifer), promethean was the name given (1830) to small glass tubes full of sulphuric acid, surrounded by an inflammable mixture, which ignited when pressed and afforded a ready light. Related: Prometheans.
Prometheans are small glass bulbs, filled with concentrated sulphuric acid, and hermetically sealed, and surrounded with a mixture of inflammable materials, amongst which the chlorate of potash forms one ; and the whole being again inclosed or surrounded with paper, also rendered still more inflammable by means of resinous matters. Upon pinching the end containing the glass bulb, between the jaws of a pair of pliers, the bulb breaks, and the sulphuric acid instantly kindles the surrounding materials. ["Arcana of Science and Art," London, 1830]