Entries linking to big-boned
c. 1300, at first found chiefly in writings from northern England and north Midlands, with a sense of "powerful, strong;" a word of obscure origin. It is possibly from a Scandinavian source (compare Norwegian dialectal bugge "great man"). Old English used micel (see much) in many of the same senses.
Big came into general use c. 1400. The meaning "of great size" is from late 14c., as is that of "full-grown, grown up." The sense of "important, influential, powerful" is from c. 1400. The meaning "haughty, inflated with pride" is from 1570s. The sense of "generous" is U.S. colloquial by 1913.
Big band as a musical style is from 1926. Slang big head "conceit" is recorded by 1850. Big business "large commercial firms collectively" is from 1913 (before that it meant "a profitable income in business"). Big top "main tent of a circus" is from 1895. Big game "large animals hunted for sport" is from 1864. Big house "penitentiary" is U.S. underworld slang is attested by 1915 (in London, "a workhouse," 1851). In financial journalism, big ticket items were so called from 1956. Big lie is from Hitler's grosse Lüge.
Middle English bon, from Old English ban "bone, tusk, hard animal tissue forming the substance of the skeleton; one of the parts which make up the skeleton," from Proto-Germanic *bainan (source also of Old Frisian and Old Saxon ben, Old Norse bein, Danish ben, German Bein). Absent in Gothic, with no cognates outside Germanic (the common PIE root is *ost-); the Norse, Dutch, and German cognates also mean "shank of the leg," and this is the main meaning in Modern German, but English seems never to have had this sense.
To work (one's) fingers to the bone is from 1809. To have a bone to pick (1560s) is an image of a dog struggling to crack or gnaw a bone (to pick a bone "strip a bone by picking or gnawing" is attested from late 15c.); to be a bone of contention (1560s) is of two dogs fighting over a bone; the images seem to have become somewhat merged. Also compare bones.
Bone-china, which is mixed with bone-dust, is so called by 1854. Bone-shaker (1874) was an old name for the early type of bicycle, before rubber tires.
updated on October 09, 2022