English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is origin of the usage of the word 'do' when in reference to a social event (primarily in Britain)?

For example a 'Stag do' or 'Christmas fundraiser do'.

share|improve this question
Is this the same idea as 'hairdo'? – Mitch Aug 11 '14 at 13:39
@Mitch There used to be a British TV show, in the late 80s I believe, entitled "A Bit of a Do" starring David Jason, every time there was a wedding, or any special occasion there would be a formal party, a get together of friends and relatives. A bit of a do, is an expression which emphasizes the event, something special, fancy. Something that takes a bit of time and effort to set up, organize and do. – Mari-Lou A Aug 11 '14 at 13:43
@Mari-LouA - OK. That sort of usage isn't very common in the US. – Mitch Aug 11 '14 at 16:23
I was also searching for the root word, and base meaning for the word "do". I was actually searching whether it's anyway related to 'two', as in 'two hands'. Found no relevance so far. (I strongly believe there could be some link). – vi.su. Nov 24 '15 at 3:24

The OED says for "do" 2b:

Something done in a set or formal manner; a performance; esp. an entertainment or show; a party; hence (orig. jocular), a military engagement, raid, or other ‘show’. Orig. dial. or vulgar.

share|improve this answer

"Do" in this context, is an abbreviation for "doing." Then the meaning becomes clearer.

This is a British usage. A more common American usage would be a "going on."

share|improve this answer
Have you any evidence for this suggestion? The OED does not support it. – Colin Fine Oct 6 '11 at 13:11
@ColinFine: I believe this is an informal usage, which may be why the OED would not confirm this "formally." – Tom Au Oct 6 '11 at 14:34
What has "formally" got to do with it? The OED lists several meanings for the noun "doing", some of them marked as "slang" or "colloquial", but not including this meaning. I'm quite prepared to believe that in some dialect of English "doing" might have this meaning, (even though I've never heard it and the OED has not recorded it); but I see no evidence that "do" in this sense comes from that use, which is what you claimed. – Colin Fine Oct 7 '11 at 8:41

protected by tchrist Aug 11 '14 at 13:40

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.