"secreting organ of the body," O.E. lifer, from P.Gmc. *librn (cf. O.N. lifr, O.Fris. livere, M.Du. levere, O.H.G. lebara, Ger. Leber "liver"), perhaps lit. "fatten up." In M.E. it rivaled the heart as the supposed seat of love and passion, hence lily-livered (see lily).
O.E. lilie, from L. lilia, pl. of lilium "a lily," cognate with Gk. leirion, both perhaps borrowed from a corrupted pronunciation of an Egyptian word. Used in O.T. to translate Heb. shoshanna and in N.T. to translate Gk. krinon. The color sense of "pale, bloodless" led to lily-livered "cowardly" (1605, in "Macbeth;" see liver; the healthy liver is typically dark reddish-brown). The lily of the valley translates L. lilium convallium (Vulgate), a literal rendition of the Heb. term in Song of Solomon ii.1. It apparently was applied to a particular plant (Convallaria majalis) first by 16c. Ger. herbalists.
c.1565, noun use of adj. scurvy (c.1425), variant of scurfy (see scurf). It took on the meaning of Du. scheurbuik, Fr. scorbut "scurvy," the disease characterized by swollen and bleeding gums, prostration, etc., perhaps from O.N. skyrbjugr, perhaps lit. "a swelling (bjugr) from drinking sour milk (skyr) on long sea voyages;" but O.E.D. has alternate etymology of M.Du. or M.L.G. origin, as "disease that lacerates the belly," from schoren "to lacerate" + M.L.G. buk, Du. buik "belly."
scurvy-tongued=one who speaks in ways that make you want to barf
barnacle-covered=barnacle covered (or slow moving [giving the barnacles time to attach])
1532, of uncertain application. Perhaps once an actual military or guard unit; more likely orig. a mock-military ref. to scullions and kitchen-knaves of noble households, of black-liveried personal guards, and of shoeblacks. By 1736, sense had emerged of "one of the criminal class."
cowardly, bile speaking criminals.
—Captain the Reverend C.S. Rowan, Esq., Gentleman Pirate
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