Words related to *spek-
late 14c., an astrological term, "relative position of the planets as they appear from earth" (i.e., how they "look at" one another); also "one of the ways of viewing something," from Latin aspectus "a seeing, looking at, sight, view; countenance; appearance," from past participle of aspicere "to look at, look upon, behold; observe, examine," figuratively "consider, ponder," from ad "to" (see ad-) + specere "to look" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe").
The meanings "the look one wears" and "the appearance of things" are attested by early 15c. The sense of "a facing in a given direction" is from 1660s.
"one who observes flights of birds for the purpose of taking omens," 1590s, from Latin auspex "interpreter of omens given by birds," from PIE *awi-spek- "observer of birds," from root *awi- "bird" + root *spek- "to observe." Compare Greek oionos "bird of prey," also "bird of omen, omen," and ornis "bird," which also could mean "omen."
plural (and now the usual form) of auspice (1530s), "observation of birds for the purpose of taking omens," from French auspice (14c.), from Latin auspicum "divination from the flight of birds; function of an auspex" (q.v.).
The meaning "any indication of the future (especially favorable)" is from 1650s; it is attested earlier (1630s) in extended sense of "benevolent influence of greater power, influence exerted on behalf of someone or something," originally in the expression under the auspices of.
Old English bisceop "bishop, high priest (Jewish or pagan)," from Late Latin episcopus, from Greek episkopos "watcher, (spiritual) overseer," a title for various government officials, later taken over in a Church sense, from epi- "over" (see epi-) + skopos "one that watches, one that looks after; a guardian, protector" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). Given a specific sense in the Church, but the word also was used in the New Testament as a descriptive title for elders, and continues as such in some non-hierarchical Christian sects.
A curious example of word-change, as effected by the genius of different tongues, is furnished by the English bishop and the French évêque. Both are from the same root, furnishing, perhaps the only example of two words from a common stem so modifying themselves in historical times as not to have a letter in common. (Of course many words from a far off Aryan stem are in the same condition.) The English strikes off the initial and terminal syllables, leaving only piscop, which the Saxon preference for the softer labial and hissing sounds modified into bishop. Évêque (formerly evesque) merely softens the p into v and drops the last syllable. [William S. Walsh, "Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities," Philadelphia, J.B. Lippincott, 1892]
Late Latin episcopus in Spanish became obispo, in Italian vescovo, in Welsh esgob. The Germanic forms include Old Saxon biscop, Old High German biscof. Further afield it became Lithuanian vyskupas, Albanian upeshk, Finnish piispa. A once-popular pun on it was bite-sheep (1550s; it works better in German, biss-schaf). The chess piece (formerly archer, before that alfin) was so called from 1560s.
"cautious, wary," literally "looking about on all sides," early 15c., from Latin circumspectus "deliberate, guarded, well-considered," past participle of circumspicere "look around, take heed," from circum "around, round about" (see circum-) + specere "to look" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). Related: Circumspectly; circumspectness.
1540s, "open to view, catching the eye," from Latin conspicuus "visible, open to view; attracting attention, striking," from conspicere "to look at, observe, see, notice," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + specere "to look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe").
Meaning "obvious to the mind, forcing itself upon the attention" is from 1610s; hence "eminent, notable, distinguished." Related: Conspicuously; conspicuousness. Phrase conspicuous by its absence (1859) is said to be from Tacitus ("Annals" iii.76), in a passage about certain images: "sed præfulgebant ... eo ipso quod effigies eorum non visebantur."
Conspicuous consumption "expenditure on a lavish scale to enhance prestige" is attested by 1895 in published writing of Norwegian-American economist and sociologist Thorstein Vebeln, made famous in his "The Theory of the Leisure Class" (1899).
Not only must wealth be possessed, but there must be a show of its possession. It must be made obvious to all that there is an inexhaustible reserve. Hence leisure must be made conspicuous by "conspicuous consumption" and "conspicuous waste." If only enough persons and the right persons could see it and know it, it would be highly honorific to light a cigar occasionally with a thousand-dollar bill. A man must not limit his consumption to himself and his family. He must live in a palace many times larger than he can possibly fill, and have a large retinue of servants and retainers, ostensibly to minister to his wants, but really to make clear his ability to pay. [Lester F. Ward, review of "Theory of the Leisure Class" in The American Journal of Sociology, May 1900]
"that may be or deserves to be despised," 1550s, from Late Latin despicabilis, from Latin despicari "despise, disdain," which is related to despicere "to look down upon," from de- "down" (see de-) + spicere, variant of specere "to look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). Related: Despicability; despicably; despicableness.
"look down upon, scorn, disdain, treat with contempt," c. 1300, despisen, from Old French despis-, present-participle stem of despire "to despise," from Latin despicere "look down on, scorn," from de- "down" (see de-) + spicere/specere "to look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). Related: Despised; despising.
To despise is to look down upon with strong contempt from a superior position of some sort. To scorn is to have an extreme and passionate contempt for. To disdain is to have a high-minded abhorrence of, or a proud and haughty contempt of. [Century Dictionary]
mid-15c., "belonging to or characteristic of bishops," from Late Latin episcopalis, from Latin episcopus "an overseer" (see bishop). Reference to a church governed by bishops is 1752. With a capital E-, the ordinary designation of the Anglican church in the U.S. and Scotland, so called because its bishops are superior to other clergy. Chambers' "Cyclopaedia" (1751) has episcopicide "the murdering of a bishop."