Entries linking to housetop
Old English hus "dwelling, shelter, building designed to be used as a residence," from Proto-Germanic *hūsan (source also of Old Norse, Old Frisian hus, Dutch huis, German Haus), of unknown origin, perhaps connected to the root of hide (v.) [OED]. In Gothic only in gudhus "temple," literally "god-house;" the usual word for "house" in Gothic being according to OED razn.
Meaning "family, including ancestors and descendants, especially if noble" is from c. 1000. Zodiac sense is first attested late 14c. The legislative sense (1540s) is transferred from the building in which the body meets. Meaning "audience in a theater" is from 1660s (transferred from the theater itself, playhouse). Meaning "place of business" is 1580s. The specialized college and university sense (1530s) also applies to both buildings and students collectively, a double sense found earlier in reference to religious orders (late 14c.). As a dance club DJ music style, probably from the Warehouse, a Chicago nightclub where the style is said to have originated.
To play house is from 1871; as suggestive of "have sex, shack up," 1968. House arrest first attested 1936. House-painter is from 1680s. House-raising (n.) is from 1704. On the house "free" is from 1889. House and home have been alliteratively paired since c. 1200.
And the Prophet Isaiah the sonne of Amos came to him, and saide vnto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not liue. [II Kings xx.1, version of 1611]
"highest point," Old English top "summit, crest, tuft," from Proto-Germanic *toppa- (source also of Old Norse toppr "tuft of hair," Old Frisian top "tuft," Old Dutch topp, Dutch top, Old High German zopf "end, tip, tuft of hair," German Zopf "tuft of hair"); no certain connections outside Germanic except a few Romanic words probably borrowed from Germanic.
Few Indo-European languages have a word so generic, which can be used of the upper part or surface of just about anything. More typical is German, which has Spitze for sharp peaks (mountains), oberfläche for the upper surface of flat things (such as a table). Meaning "highest position" is from 1620s; meaning "best part" is from 1660s. To go over the top is World War I slang for "start an attack," in reference to the top of the trenches; as "beyond reasonable limits, too far" it is recorded from 1968. Top of the world as "position of greatest eminence" is from 1670s. Top-of-the-line (adj.) is by 1950.
updated on September 02, 2015
shout it from the housetops