kaleidoscope 1817, lit. "observer of beautiful forms," coined by its inventor, Scottish scientist David Brewster (1781-1868), from Gk. kalos "beautiful" + eidos "shape" (see -OID (Cf. -oid)) + -SCOPE (Cf. -scope), on model of TELESCOPE (Cf. telescope), etc. They sold by the thousands in the few years after their invention, but Brewster failed to secure a patent. Figurative meaning "constantly changing pattern" is first attested 1819 in Lord Byron, whose publisher had sent him one. As a verb, from 1891. A kaleidophone (1827) was invented by English physicist Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) to make sound waves visible.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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