The background of the common word pamphlet may be entirely amatory. In the twelfth century a Latin poem titled Pamphilus, seu de A more took the staid people of that era by storm. The author of this Latin poem is unknown, but the verses, some three pages in length, became among the best-known of the Middle Ages. This «love-making» poem was so popular that it came to be called simply Pamphilus. After the invention of the printing press, the poem appeared in booklet form, and the title, over time, became the one-word Pamphlet. Then a pamphlet (lower case p) came to be defined as a paper-bound or unbound booklet of fewer than a hundred pages. The word pamphlet, etymologically, stems from Greek pamphilos, meaning «beloved by all».


Pallas Athene, called Pallas Minerva in Latin, perhaps is so named from the spear she brandished. In classical legend, the wooden statue of Pallas, in the citadel of Troy, which was said to have fallen from heaven, preserved the safety of the city. From this notion has come the general meaning of palladium — a safeguard on which anyone or anything can depend. The Trojans knew this legend well. After Odysseus and Dio- medes stole the statue, Troy fell.
When William Flyde Wollaston, an English physicist, discovered, in 1803, a rare metallic element associated with platinum and gold, he named it palladium for the Grecian goddess and also after the newly discovered asteroid Pallas.
The similar-sounding word Palladian is derived from the architectural style, based on the classical, introduced by Andrea Palladio (1518-1580). This great architect was given the name Andrea di Pietro Vicenza at birth but was renamed by the scholarly poet Trissimo. Outstanding works of his include the Villa Rotunda at Vicenza and S. Georgio Maggiore in Venice. Palladio was honored with the appellation «the Raphael of architects». His name is still current in Palladian window, an architectural unit that he used on grand buildings. It consists of a central window with a round-arch top flanked by two square-topped windows.
The Palladium in London derived its name from the mistaken notion that the ancient Palladium, like the great Colosseum, was a place for circuses and fun.


Oysters Rockefeller is a concoction of oysters topped with a puree of spinach, celery, onion and seasonings, baked on a bed of rock salt, thick enough to keep the oysters in shell from tipping over. The dish was not the brainchild of any Rockefeller, and its name came about through pure fortuity at Antoine’s, the renowned New Orleans restaurant. Original words have been lost. This is hearsay: A diner eating the oyster dish commented to the waiter that the flavor was as rich as Rockefeller. And so the dish received its distinguished name from an unknown person who had no idea that the remark would become a culinary verbal monument.


The ottoman is a stuffed or cushioned footstool, sometimes called a hassock. Also called an ottoman is a backless couch, which in America never attained the popularity of the footstool.
The namesake that people have been resting their feet on (the footstool) or their entire bodies (the couch) came from Osman I (1288 — 1320). Europeans sometimes corrupted the name to Othman or Ottoman, the once-mighty ruler of the Turks and the founder of the Ottoman Empire. His descendants ruled the great empire for more than six centuries, until its dissolution in 1919. The Ottoman Empire ruled from its capital Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) vast land areas comprising in southwestern Asia, northeastern Africa, and much of southeastern Europe.
Toward the end of the eighteenth century, there was a surge of interest in Oriental splendors — carpets, pillows, furniture. Shrewd merchants promoted the furniture to feed the imagination of the Eastern potentates. And so backless sofas came into demand, as did the cushioned footstool.
Ottoman takes its name from the feminine form of the French otto- mane, which in turn comes from the Arabic word for Turkish Othmani.


Each spring millions of television viewers watch the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’s elaborate ceremony at which Oscars (golden trophies) are bestowed on the best performers and other professionals in various categories involved in movie production. The Oscar is a ten-inch statuette, weighing seven pounds, bronze on the inside and gold-plated on the outside. It was designed by Cedric Gibbons, a subsequent sixtime winner of an Oscar for best art design.
The statuette was first presented in 1927, but it was nameless until 1931. In that year, a new librarian, Mrs. Margaret Herrick, was employed by the Academy. When shown one of the trophies, she noted its resemblance to her uncle. A newspaper reporter sitting nearby overheard the comment, liked it, published it, and thus initiated a permanent name for the prized trophy. Her remark was, «He reminds me of my Uncle Oscar».
Uncle Oscar has been a somewhat shadowy figure. He was supposed to be Oscar Pierce, a wealthy Texan, but that fact has never been satisfactorily established.

O.K., OK

No consensus exists on the derivation of OK. Some say it was an abbreviation used by lumbermen who cut oak trees for furniture. The best- quality oak was «Oak A». Or was it a Choctaw Indian word spelled «Okeh», meaning «it is»? Another theory is that it represented the initials of a railroad clerk, Obadiah Kelly, who stamped OK on parcels for shipment. Then again, bananas without flaws were designated au quai — that is, ready to go to the quay for loading. Hence OK.
But the largest following among word authorities is that the genesis of OK can be found in the name of the O.K. Democratic Club, a group that during the presidential campaign of 1840 used the symbol O.K. as its rallying slogan on behalf of Martin Van Buren (1782-1862). Van Buren had adopted the nickname «Old Kinderhook» to refer to his birthplace near Albany and to emphasize his farming background. Van Buren’s father was a farmer, and Martin, when a boy, helped with the plow. «Old Kinderhook» became shortened to «O.K.», and the voters were exhorted to «vote right, vote O.K». Van Buren entered the White House for a four-year stay, but his symbol OK became the permanent symbol in the language of the world for «all right». OK has attained such universal acceptance that it vies with Coca-Cola as the best-known term on earth.


Georg Simon Ohm (1787-1854), was born in Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany, to a family of locksmiths.
Ohm received a doctorate in physics when he was twenty-two and then accepted a position teaching mathematics at the Jesuit college in Cologne. He was not well accepted by his fellow scientists, which caused him to resign. To obtain another teaching assignment, Ohm sent a copy of a book he had written to the monarchs of the various German states. His strategy paid off. The king of Prussia invited him to teach at the Royal Konsistorium in Cologne. His research at that institution led him to discover the basic law of electrical resistance.
The International Electrical Congress voted at its meeting in Chicago in 1893 — thirty-nine years after Ohm’s death — to adopt his name for a unit of electrical resistance. Ohm’s Law is set forth as «current equals volts divided by ohms».


William Sydney Porter (1862-1910) was one of the most renowned and intriguing short-story writers in the United States. But his early life was a hard-luck epic filled with trials and tribulations.
Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Porter was only three when he lost his mother. At fifteen, he left school. Hve years later, he migrated to Texas, where he was unsuccessful at various employments. In 1891, he became a bank teller at an Austin bank and was indicted for embezzlement in 1896. Protesting his innocence (the amount was small, and he claimed mismanagement), he fled to Honduras and South America, leaving behind his wife and young son. When Porter learned that his wife was dying, he returned to Texas, was tried and convicted of embezzlement, and served three years in a federal penitentiary. During his incarceration, his son died.
By the time Porter was thirty-five, he had lost everything: His wife and son had died and his association with an Austin humor magazine that he had once edited was gone. While in prison, Porter began writing, using a pseudonym to disguise his identity. On his release, he headed for New York and began a career in journalism. Although troubled by alcoholism, Porter was a prolific writer in the twelve years between his confinement and his death. He wrote 700 stories, publishing Cabbages and Kings in 1904, The Four Million in 1906, Voice of the City in 1908, and Options in 1909. His stories, which featured everyday people, were characterized by the use of coincidence and ironic surprise endings. The author’s deep emotions penetrated his writings. His «Gift of the Magi» became a classic almost from the time it was written.
Porter had a constant bout with hypoglycemia. He summarized his condition by saying, «I was born eight drinks below par». His last words were an order to a nurse: «Pull up the shades. I don’t want to go home in the dark».


Oedipus complex is the psychoanalytical term for the sexual attraction of a son to his mother, accompanied by manifestations of hostility toward the father.
The name for this psychological pattern in males was taken by Sigmund Freud from the Greek myth of Oedipus because the life of this Theban king seemed to act out in detail the logic of Freud’s theory, the repressed desires of the male. Although Oedipus was the subject of many Greek tragedies, his pathetic fate was best dramatized by Sophocles in Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus.
Oedipus was the son of Laius, king of Thebes, and of his queen, Jocasta. An oracle warned the parents to beget no children, for the king would perish at the hands of his own son, who would then marry his mother. Having begotten Oedipus while drunkenly out of control of his sexual impulses, the king, trying to circumvent this prophecy of doom, exposed the infant Oedipus on a mountaintop, his feet bound and pierced. He was found by a shepherd and presented to the king
of Corinth, who reared him as his own son, giving him the name Oedipus because of his swollen feet (oedipus in Greek means «swollen feet»).
When Oedipus was grown, he was informed by the oracle of the future tragedy of his life. Believing that the Corinthian king was his real father, Oedipus left and resolved never to return to Corinth. On his way to Thebes, his chariot and one coming in an opposite direction could not pass at the same time because the road was too narrow. An argument ensued, and Oedipus killed the stranger — who turned out to be Laius, his natural father.
Oedipus continued on to Thebes, where the celebrated Sphinx, sitting majestically on a rock, kept posing what seemed to be an unanswerable riddle to the Thebans. Whoever failed to solve her riddle, she would kill at once. In desperation, the Thebans offered their kingdom and the hand of Jocasta to anyone who would rid the country of this monster. Oedipus solved the riddle; in innocence married the widowed queen; and became, by her, the father of four children. When Oedipus and his mother discovered that their relationship was incestuous, Jocasta hanged herself, and Oedipus put out his eyes. And thus the prophecy came to pass.


Odysseus, in Greek legend, was the king of Ithaca and a leading Greek hero of the Trojan War. He was the son of Laertes and Anticlea; the husband of Penelope, and the father of Telemachus. At first unwilling to go to the Trojan War, he feigned madness by yoking an ass and an ox to a plow and sowing salt. But Palamedes, son of the king of Nauplia, who was seeking recruits for service in the war, placed the infant Telemachus in front of the plow, whereupon Odyssesus proved his sanity by turning aside. At Troy, Odysseus was renowned for his bravery, wisdom, and cunning. His wanderings after the capture of Troy, his return to Ithaca, and his vengeance upon Penelope’s suitors, who had taken advantage of his absence, are related in Homer’s Odyssey.
Odysseus spent seven of his ten years of absence on an island where he was detained by the nymph Calypso, and one year on another island, detained by the enchantress Circe, who transformed his crew into swine to prevent human voyeurism. According to a post-Homeric legend, Odysseus was slain accidentally by Telegonus, his son by Circe.
The epic poem of Homer records the adventure of Odysseus (called Ulysses by the Romans) on his homeward voyage from Troy. Odysseus displayed craftiness on his long voyage to Ithaca, guiding his ship home in spite of Circe and the Cyclops and past the Sirens as well. His voyage, regarded by many as the greatest travelogue of all times, gave birth to the word odyssey to mean a long journey or campaign, especially one featuring many changes of fortune, or an extended adventurous wandering.