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O.E. bisignes (Northumbrian) "care, anxiety, occupation," from bisig "careful, anxious, busy, occupied, diligent" (see busy) + -ness. Sense of "work, occupation" is first recorded late 14c. Sense of "trade, commercial engagements" is first attested 1727. Modern two-syllable pronunciation is 17c. Business card first attested 1840; business letter from 1766.
as a term in advertising, at first meant simply "cheaper" (1821), then "bigger and thus cheaper per unit or amount" (1950). See
1530s, "household management," from L. oeconomia, from Gk. oikonomia "household management, thrift," from oikonomos "manager, steward," from oikos "house" (cognate with L. vicus "district," vicinus "near;" O.E. wic "dwelling, village;" see villa) + nomos "managing," from nemein "manage" (see numismatics). The sense of "wealth and resources of a country" (short for political economy) is from 1650s.
1530s, from M.Fr. commerce (14c.), from L. commercium "trade, trafficking," from com- "together" (see com-) + merx (gen. mercis) "merchandise" (see market).
early 15c., "one who squanders or wastes," agent noun from consume. In economic sense, "one who uses up goods or articles" (opposite of producer) from 1745. Consumer goods is attested from 1890. In U.S., consumer price index calculated since 1919, tracking "changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services" [Bureau of Labor Statistics]; abbreviation CPI is attested by 1971.
O.E. wice, from P.Gmc. *wikon (cf. O.N. vika, O.Fris. wike, M.Du. weke, O.H.G. wecha, Ger. woche), probably originally with the sense of "a turning" or "succession" (cf. Goth. wikon "in the course of," O.N. vika "sea-mile," originally "change of oar," O.E. wican "yield, give way"), from PIE root *weik- "to bend, wind" (see vicarious). "Meaning primarily 'change, alteration,' the word may once have denoted some earlier time division, such as the 'change of moon, half month,' ... but there is no positive evidence of this" [Buck]. No evidence of a native Germanic week before contact with the Romans. The seven-day week is ancient, probably originating from the 28-day lunar cycle, divisible into four periods of seven day, at the end of each of which the moon enters a new phase. Reinforced during the spread of Christianity by the ancient Jewish seven-day week. As a Roman astrological convention it was borrowed by other European peoples; the Germanic tribes substituting their own deities for those of the Romans, without regard to planets. The Coligny calendar suggests a Celtic division of the month into halves; the regular Greek division of the month was into three decades; and the Romans also had a market week of nine days.
Greek planetary names [for the days of the week] ... are attested for the early centuries of our era, but their use was apparently restricted to certain circles; at any rate they never became popular. In Rome, on the other hand, the planetary names became the established popular terms, too strongly intrenched to be displaced by the eccl[esiastical] names, and spreading through most of western Europe. [Buck]
Phrase a week, as in eight days a week recorded by 1540s; see a- (1).