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What do a.m. and p.m. stand for?

contra dance

1803, from French contre-danse, altered from English country dance by folk etymology from French contra "against," suggested by the arrangement of the partners in the dance. The dances and the name were taken up in France c. 1720s and from there passed to Spain and Italy (Spanish, Italian contra danza) then back to English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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