surname, from 13c. Scottish Dofnald, Dufenald, probably from Gaelic Domhnall, Old Irish Domnall (pronounced "Dovnall"), from Proto-Celtic *Dubno-valos "world-mighty, ruler of the world," from *walos "ruler" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong") + Old Irish domun "world," from PIE root *dheub- "deep, hollow," via sense development from "bottom" to "foundation" to "earth" to "world" (see deep (adj.)). A top 10 name for boys born in the U.S. between 1923 and 1943. Disney's Donald Duck cartoon character debuted in 1934.
name of a genus of Old World monkeys, Modern Latin, from Portuguese macaca, fem. of macaco, a name from an African language of the Congo (compare macaque).
also V.I.P., 1933, initialism (acronym) for very important person or personage; not common until after World War II.
At most, the greatest persons, are but great wens, and excrescences; men of wit and delightfull conversation, but as moales for ornament, except they be so incorporated into the body of the world, that they contribute something to the sustentation of the whole. [John Donne, letter to Sir Henry Goodere, Sept. 1608]
"person out of touch with current conditions," 1829, the name of the character in Washington Irving's popular Catskills tale (published 1819) of the henpecked husband who sleeps enchanted for 20 years and finds the world has forgotten him.