in law, formal notice to a plaintiff that the prosecutor will not continue a suit, Latin, literally "to be unwilling to pursue." The derived verb nolle-pross "to abandon (a prosecution, etc.) by nolle prosequi" is attested from 1880. Latin nolle "be unwilling" is from ne "not" + velle "will."
[A]pplied to succession when divided so as to give the representatives belonging to one branch the share only that their head or ancestor would have taken had he survived. Thus, in a gift to A and the children of B, if they are to take per capita, each child will have a share equal to that of A; but if they are to take per stirpes, A will take one half and the other half will be divided among the children of B. [Century Dictionary]
"person or thing that people hope will be very successful in the near future," 1911, originally in U.S. sporting use in reference to the quest for a white man capable of beating champion pugilist Jack Johnson.
"pursuit of anything in ignorance of the direction it will take," hence "a foolish enterprise," 1592, first attested in "Romeo and Juliet," where it evidently is a figurative use of an earlier (but unrecorded) literal sense in reference to a kind of follow-the-leader steeplechase, perhaps from one of the "crazy, silly" senses in goose (n.). Wild goose (as opposed to a domesticated one) is attested in late Old English (wilde gos).
coined 1866 by Thoreau as the title of his essay originally published (1849) as "Resistance to Civil Government."
If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. [Thoreau]
in the sports sense, 1879, originally in cricket, "taking three wickets on three consecutive deliveries;" extended to other sports c. 1909, especially ice hockey ("In an earlier contest we had handed Army a 6-2 defeat at West Point as Billy Sloane performed hockey's spectacular 'hat trick' by scoring three goals" ["Princeton Alumni Weekly," Feb. 10, 1941]). So called allegedly because it entitled the bowler to receive a hat from his club commemorating the feat (or entitled him to pass the hat for a cash collection), but the term probably has been influenced by the image of a conjurer pulling objects from his hat (an act attested by 1876). The term was used earlier for a different sort of magic trick:
Place a glass of liquor on the table, put a hat over it, and say, "I will engage to drink every drop of that liquor, and yet I'll not touch the hat." You then get under the table; and after giving three knocks, you make a noise with your mouth, as if you were swallowing the liquor. Then, getting from under the table, say "Now, gentlemen, be pleased to look." Some one, eager to see if you have drunk the liquor, will raise the hat; when you instantly take the glass and swallow the contents, saying, "Gentlemen I have fulfilled my promise: you are all witnesses that I did not touch the hat." ["Wit and Wisdom," London, 1860]