Entries linking to breastbone
Old English breost "mammary gland of a woman, bosom; the thorax or chest, part of the body between the neck and the belly; mind, thought, disposition," from Proto-Germanic *brust-/*breust- "breast" (source also of Old Saxon briost, Old Frisian briast, Old Norse brjost, Dutch borst, German brust, Gothic brusts), perhaps literally "swelling" and from PIE root *bhreus- "to swell, sprout" (source also of Middle Irish bruasach "having a broad, strong chest," Old Irish bruinne "breast").
The spelling conforms to the Scottish and northern England dialectal pronunciation. The figurative sense of "seat of the emotions and affections, repository of designs and secrets" was in Old English. Breast-plate "armor for the front of the body" is from late 14c. Breast-pump is from 1821.
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 December 12, 2012