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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

9 new etyms

The evolution during my lifetime of the meaning and usage of one word in particular comes to mind. The word is “guy.” Today, the word guy in my mind has come to mean and be used as the word comrade was intended to be used as in Soviet Russia. Guy is now so very commonly used, but the question is why has it morphed the way it has? Guy can be anybody from a toddler to an elderly person on the deathbed. The word guy strips away all discrimination, much like the word person, but it is not the word person. Guy makes every and anybody called a guy on the same equal footing as the guy calling others guys. Professional, laborer, male, female, whatever the title, it matters not. So guys..

guy (1) Look up guy at

"rope, chain, wire," mid-14c., "leader," from O.Fr. guie "a guide," from guier (see guide (v.)); or from a similar word in North Sea Germanic. The "rope" sense is nautical, first recorded 1620s.

guy (2) Look up guy at

"fellow," 1847, originally Amer.Eng.; earlier (1836) "grotesquely or poorly dressed person," originally (1806) "effigy of Guy Fawkes," leader of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up British king and Parliament (Nov. 5, 1605), paraded through the streets by children on the anniversary of the conspiracy. The male proper name is from French, related to It. Guido, lit. "leader," of Germanic origin (see guide).

mid-12c., "flag or other conspicuous object to serve as a rallying point for a military force," from O.Fr. estandart, probably from Frank. *standhard, lit. "stand fast or firm," a compound of words similar to Gothic standan "to stand" (see stand) and hardus "hard" (see hard). So called because the flag was fixed to a pole or spear and stuck in the ground to stand upright. The other theory connects the O.Fr. word to estendre "to stretch out," from L. extendere (see extend). Meaning "unit of measure" is early 14c., from Anglo-Fr., where it was used 13c., and is perhaps metaphoric, the royal standard coming to stand for royal authority in matters like setting weights and measures. Hence the meaning "authoritative or recognized exemplar of quality or correctness" (late 15c.). Meaning "rule, principal or means of judgment" is from 1560s. That of "definite level of attainment" is attested from 1711 (e.g. standard of living, 1903). Some senses (e.g. "upright pole," mid-15c.) seem to be influenced by stand (v.). Standard-bearer in the figurative sense is from 1560s.

glamour (n.) Look up glamour at

1720, Scottish, "magic, enchantment" (especially in phrase to cast the glamor), a variant of Scottish gramarye "magic, enchantment, spell," alteration of English grammar (q.v.) with a medieval sense of "any sort of scholarship, especially occult learning." Popularized by the writings of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). Sense of "magical beauty, alluring charm" first recorded 1840. As a verb, by 1830s, from the noun.

love (n.) Look up love at

O.E. lufu "love, affection, friendliness," from P.Gmc. *lubo (cf. O.Fris. liaf, Ger. lieb, Goth. liufs "dear, beloved;" not found elsewhere as a noun, except O.H.G. luba, Ger. Liebe), from PIE *leubh- "to care, desire, love" (cf. L.lubet, later libet "pleases;" Skt. lubhyati "desires;" O.C.S. l'ubu "dear, beloved;" Lith. liaupse "song of praise"). Meaning "a beloved person" is from early 13c. The sense "no score" (in tennis, etc.) is 1742, from the notion of "playing for love," i.e. "for nothing" (1670s). Love-letter is attested from mid-13c.; love-song from early 14c. To be in love with (someone) is from c.1500. Love life "one's collective amorous activities" is from 1919, originally a term in psychological jargon. Love affair is from 1590s. Phrase for love or money "for anything" is attested from 1580s. To fall in love is attested from early 15c. The phrase no love lost (between two people) is ambiguous and was used 17c. in ref. to two who love each other well (c.1640) as well as two who have no love for each other (1620s).

Dollar  - $
The ribbons were wound around their pillars just like the "S" in the dollar sign is wound around its uprights. This full royal coat of arms flanked by pillars, whether inscribed "Ne plus ultra" or the later "Plus ultra", was the obverse of the dollar-sized 8 Reales coin, with the king's head on the reverse. I was formerly a serious coin collector, and still have a couple of examples of these 8 Reals, which served as the model in size for our dollar coin. The 8 Real coins circulated widely in Florida and the Caribbean prior to the Revolusion, and would have been familiar to American colonials. It is my feeling that the new nation elected to pattern its monetary unit after the Spanish 8 Reales rather than the British Pound, as a sign of independence from the mother country. The One-Real piece was a small silver coin, also called a "bit". That is why our quarter-dollar has come to be known as "two bits".

serendipity Look up serendipity at

1754 (but rare before 20c.), coined by Horace Walpole (1717-92) in a letter to Mann (dated Jan. 28); he said he formed it from the Persian fairy tale "The Three Princes of Serendip," whose heroes "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of." The name is from Serendip, an old name for Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), from Arabic Sarandib, from Skt. Simhaladvipa "Dwelling-Place-of-Lions Island."


From the Latin "nescius," for "ignorant," and, at various times before the current definition became established meant "foolish" then "foolishly precise" then "pedantically precise" then "precise in a good way" and then our current definition.

nice Look up nice at

late 13c., "foolish, stupid, senseless," from O.Fr. nice "silly, foolish," from L. nescius "ignorant," lit. "not-knowing," from ne- "not" (see un-) + stem of scire "to know." "The sense development has been extraordinary, even for an adj." [Weekley] -- from "timid" (pre-1300); to "fussy, fastidious" (late 14c.); to "dainty, delicate" (c.1400); to "precise, careful" (1500s, preserved in such terms as a nice distinction and nice and early); to "agreeable, delightful" (1769); to "kind, thoughtful" (1830). In 16c.-17c. it is often difficult to determine exactly what is meant when a writer uses this word. By 1926, it was pronounced "too great a favorite with the ladies, who have charmed out of it all its individuality and converted it into a mere diffuser of vague and mild agreeableness." [Fowler]

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