On the list were several words whose origin surprised me. In particular, this one:
If you are interested in more from the list (such as the origins of words like: "hard-boiled," "serendipity," and "Banana Republic"), do click on the link to the article.
6. Freelancei) One who sells services to employers without a long-term commitment to any of them.
ii) An uncommitted independent, as in politics or social life .
The word is not recorded before Sir Walter Scott introduced it in Ivanhoe which, among other things, is often considered the first historical novel in the modern sense. Scott’s freelancers were mercenaries who pledged their loyalty and arms for a fee. This was its first appearance: “I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them – I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment.”
And while you are there, take a look at all the fabulous stuff in the Guardian book pages (you can thank me later).