Etymology After The Fact  


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From: http://www.etymonline.com

c.1300, "malformed animal, creature afflicted with a birth defect," from O.Fr. monstre, from L. monstrum "monster, monstrosity, omen, portent, sign," from root of monere "warn" (see monitor). Abnormal or prodigious animals were regarded as signs or omens of impending evil. Extended c.1385 to imaginary animals composed of parts of creatures (centaur, griffin, etc.). Meaning "animal of vast size" is from 1530; sense of "person of inhuman cruelty or wickedness" is from 1556. In O.E., the monster Grendel was an aglæca, a word related to aglæc "calamity, terror, distress, oppression."

c.1225, from O.Fr. cite, in medieval usage a cathedral town, but orig. meaning any settlement, regardless of size (distinction from town is 14c., though in Eng. it always seems to have ranked above borough), from earlier citet, from L. civitatem (nom. civitas) orig. "citizenship, community of citizens," from civis "townsman," from PIE base *kei- "to lie, homestead." The L. word for "city" was urbs, but a resident was civis. Civitas seems to have replaced urbs as Rome (the ultimate urbs) lost its prestige. City hall first recorded 1675; city slicker first recorded 1924 (see slick); both Amer.Eng. Inner city first attested 1968.

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