14
votes
2answers
423 views

Did people ever use the word “cock” as a euphemism for “God”?

English has a lot of surprises. When I was checking the etymology of "cocksure", I found this entry in Oxford Dictionaries: 1 British A male bird, especially of a domestic fowl. Below is ...
2
votes
1answer
567 views

What is a non-humorous 19th or 18th century alternative to the contemporary insult 'jerk'?

Most web sites and forum posts I've come across covering archaic insults are usually devoted to listing polysyllabic compound words of the Shakespearean variety, such as : you artless, swag-bellied, ...
10
votes
2answers
752 views

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns"

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns" What does this metaphor mean and what is the origin? I know it is an ancient one, but couldn't find anything else! Is it obsolete ...
2
votes
2answers
248 views

“recce” — the reck which a reckless is lacking

While thinking about good antonyms for reckless, I noticed there’s no reckful nor any reck in English, for that matter. So, what would that reck be? Etymonline offers the following scrap: rece, ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the origin of the word “conk”?

Is it obsolete to use this word? Where does it come from? I couldn't find the origin of this term. Can I use the phrase "The machine conked out" or should I replace conked out with something else?
5
votes
1answer
283 views

Could “old fashioned” mean “angry” or “disconsolate” in early 19th Century England?

Patrick O'Brian wrote the Aubrey/Maturin seafaring novels during the late 20th Century, but the novels read as if they were written during the early 1800s (at least as far as I can tell, which isn't ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is the term “touched” no longer commonly used?

I’ve heard the term touched used to refer to someone who is “not quite right”. I’m curious as to where this term came from, what it really means, and why it doesn’t tend to be used often anymore. Is ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

King James Bible archaic style

I am currently reading the King James Version of the Bible and I have noticed some features that I would like to know more about. Almost every verse of the First Book of Moses starts with “and”. ...
10
votes
6answers
11k views

What was “well met!” supposed to mean?

I know it was a sort of archaic greeting, but I don't know how to interpret the actual words. I had a foggy idea that it meant "It is good that we met here and now", but even then, "well met" is not ...
10
votes
4answers
491 views

What exactly is “noonday night”?

In answering the question Is there a term for “midnight” that is like “noon”, I came across the phrase noonday night listed as a synonym for midnight in my copy of Roget's International ...
8
votes
2answers
352 views

Help me parse this sentence so I can understand what joke my ancestors played on the King

I'm reading an old history book about my ancestors entitled "Rulewater And Its People: An Account Of The Valley Of The Rule And Its Inhabitants" published in 1907 by George Tancred. In it, I'm having ...
3
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the origin and use of “remember me to her/him”?

Is anybody familiar with the use of remember as in remember me to her/him? I think I've see it in 19th century literature. Most likely it's archaic. I believe the speaker is commanding someone to ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

What did they call illegitimate children in Old English days?

I know that the word bastard in this sense appeard only in 13th century. So what was the normal term before that?