Words related to *kwo-
"the proper thing" (slang), from Urdu chiz "a thing," from Persian chiz, from Old Persian *ciš-ciy "something," from PIE pronominal root *kwo-. Picked up by British in India by 1818 and used in the sense of "a big thing" (especially in the phrase the real chiz).
This perhaps is behind the expression big cheese "important person" (1914), but that is American English in origin and likely rather belongs to cheese (n.1). To cut a big cheese as a figurative expression for "look important" is recorded from 1915, and overlarge wheels of cheese, especially from Wisconsin, were commonly displayed 19c. as publicity stunts by retailers, etc.
The cheese will be on exhibition at the National Dairy Show at Chicago next week. President Taft will visit the show the morning of Monday, October thirtieth, and after his address he will be invited to cut the big cheese, which will then be distributed in small lots to visitors at the show. [The Country Gentleman, Oct. 28, 1911]
"words spoken at the end of a speech in a play that are the signal for an answering speech," 1550s, of uncertain origin. By one theory it is a spelling out of Q, the letter, which was used 16c., 17c. in stage plays to indicate actors' entrances and was explained at the time as an abbreviation of Latin quando "when" (from PIE root *kwo-, stem of relative and interrogative pronouns) or a similar Latin adverb. Shakespeare's printed texts have it as both Q and cue. Cue as a name for "the letter Q" is attested from 1755.
Transferred to music by 1880. Figurative sense of "sign or hint to speak or act" is from 1560s. The television reader's cue-card is attested by 1948.
Old English ægðer, contraction of æghwæðer (pron., adv., conj.) "each of two, both," from a "always" (see aye (adv.)) + ge- collective prefix + hwæðer "which of two, whether" (see whether). Cognate with Old Frisian eider, Dutch ieder, Old High German eogiwedar, German jeder "either, each, every").
Modern sense of "one or the other of two" is late 13c. Adverbially, for emphasis, "in any case, at all," especially when expressing negation, by 1828. Use of either-or to suggest an unavoidable choice between alternatives (1931) in some cases reflects Danish enten-eller, title of an 1843 book by Kierkegaard.
"Spanish nobleman of secondary rank," 1590s, from Spanish hidalgo, from Old Spanish fidalgo, usually explained as a shortened from filho de algo "son" (Latin filius, see filial) "of someone" (Latin aliquis, ultimately from PIE root *al- "beyond" + PIE pronomial root *kwo-); this is perhaps an imitation of Arabic ibn-nas "son of people," a complimentary title. For alteration of f- and h- in Spanish, see hacienda.
How come? for "why?" is recorded from 1848 [Bartlett]. Emphatic phrase and how! is recorded from 1865. The formulation was common in book and article titles ("The National Debt, and How to Pay It"), but Pennsylvania writer Bayard Taylor, in whom it is first recorded, seems to have regarded it as a German or German-American expression.
"not one or the other," Middle English neither, naither, nether, from Old English nawþer, contraction of nahwæþer, literally "not of two," from na "no" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + hwæþer "which of two" (see whether). Spelling altered c. 1200 by association with either. Paired with nor from c. 1300; earlier with ne. Meaning "not in any case, in no case, not at all" is from 1550s. Also used in late Old English as a pronoun. As an adjective, "not either," mid-14c.
late 14c., neutre, in grammar, of nouns, pronouns, etc., "neither masculine nor feminine in gender," also of verbs, "having middle or reflexive meaning, neither active nor passive," from Latin neuter "of the neuter gender," literally "neither one nor the other," from ne- "not, no" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + uter "either (of two)" (see whether). The Latin word is probably a loan-translation of Greek oudeteros "neither, neuter." From 1520s it also had the sense of "taking neither side" which now generally goes with neutral (adj.).
As a noun from mid-15c., "the neuter gender;" by 1797 of certain animals (among bees, ants, etc.) that are of neither sex and incapable of generation.
"as, in the capacity of," from Latin qua "where? on which side? at which place? which way? in what direction?" figuratively "how? in what manner? by what method?; to what extent? in what degree?" correlative pronominal adverb of place (from PIE root *kwo-, stem of relative and interrogative pronouns).
c. 1300, qualite, "temperament, character, disposition," from Old French calite, qualite "quality, nature, characteristic" (12c., Modern French qualité), from Latin qualitatem (nominative qualitas) "a quality, property; nature, state, condition" (said [Tucker, etc.] to have been coined by Cicero to translate Greek poiotēs), from qualis "what kind of a" (from PIE root *kwo-, stem of relative and interrogative pronouns).
In early use, and for long thereafter, with awareness of the word's use in Aristotelian philosophy. From late 14c. as "an inherent attribute," also "degree of goodness or excellence." Meaning "social rank, position" is c. 1400, hence "nobility, gentry." From 1580s as "a distinguished and characteristic excellence."
Noun phrase quality time "time spent giving undivided attention to another person to build a relationship" is recorded by 1977. Quality of life "degree to which a person is healthy and able to participate in or enjoy life events" is from 1943. Quality control "maintenance of desired quality in a manufactured product" is attested from 1935.