Etymology is the history of the origin of words and phrases.

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Origin of golden parachute

noun 1. an employment contract or agreement guaranteeing a key executive of a company substantial severance pay and other financial benefits in the event of job loss caused by the company's being ...
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27 views

Does anyone know what these words mean? [on hold]

And where it come from? Nomeus Leasd
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77 views

Is 'arrogant' a masculine word?

I was trying to think of a word to describe a female acquaintance and came up with arrogant, but immediately wanted to discard this as the word itself felt masculine to me. I later settled on ...
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114 views

Why is Greece not called in English by the name Hellas?

The Greeks call their country Hellas and themselves Hellenes. The names Greece and Greek are of Roman origin and were adopted from Latin Graecus into old High German as Crêch and then in all ...
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49 views

The history of 'aisle' and 'isle'

I've read about how the word 'aisle' and 'isle' each came from the French 'aile' and 'ile', respectively. I also read how the there was confusion between the two words, such that when 'isle' gained ...
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62 views

“Batchy” indicating a bad taste?

My grandmother uses the term batchy to refer to food and drink with tastes that young palates won’t appreciate. For example: “Nana, can I try some coffee?” “No, dear. You don’t want that. ...
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24 views

Overcast and forecast [on hold]

Talking about the weather, I have always been confused with these two words: overcast and forecast. I wonder to know why they are so similar and in that time they have completely different meaning. ...
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239 views

Etymology: “main” meaning sea or ocean

In Kipling's "The Land" he writes: Then did robbers enter Britain from across the Northern main And our Lower River-field was won by Ogier the Dane. Here "main" seems to mean sea, i.e. the ...
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104 views

On the origin of 'blizzard '.

Blizzard is probably the most used word to indicate a violent snowstorm. Despite its popularity the etymology of the term is quite unclear. Some well-known sources hint at its onomatopoeic sound as ...
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43 views

Etymology: Camelot

Camelot sounds, and looks, a lot like the French camelote. Camelote, though, means something like trash or junk. Camelot means just the opposite though: Oxford Dictionary of English (2nd Edition ...
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28 views

Etymology for “oh so beautiful”

I was writing a creative piece, and unbeknownst to me, I used this phase "oh so beautiful". It fitted my description and it "felt" right, so to speak. I am just not sure were I have heard it or better ...
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460 views

Etymology of “[Where/What/Why] in the world” idiom?

I've searched the internet and found definitions, but I cannot figure out when this would have EVER meant anything. Any ideas? Specifically, the type of phrase I am referring to is "What in the world ...
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63 views

What's the meaning of “mean” in “in the mean time”?

As I understand it "in the mean time" means "in the time between now & a specific future occurrence." What's the meaning of "mean" here? I assume it has something to do with "average" but it's ...
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46 views

Word and etymology for “small of one's back”

I've encountered the phrase small of one's back often when I was reading the Divergent series, and recently encountered it again on a Wikipedia article. I've searched its meaning on the internet, but ...
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53 views

How to rationalise the 'pro-' prefix in 'promiscuous' ?

I ask not about the definition itself, but about the impact or role of the prefix in English: promiscuous (adj.) c.1600, people or things, "mingled confusedly, grouped together without ...
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255 views

What's the origin of the “memory lane”?

Where does this meme come from (as in a trip down memory lane) ? Is it from a book ?
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61 views

English tv programme about the origins of words and idioms [closed]

Does anyone remember a series of programmes on UK tv about the origins of words and idioms? They focused each programme on a different aspect of society, for example: church, navy, farming, pubs. I've ...
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81 views

If pogonotrophy means to grow a beard, is there a term for shaving a beard?

If pogonotrophy means "to grow a beard", is there a term for shaving a beard? How would you use pogonotrophy in a sentence? And if there is an antonym for this word, how would you use it in a ...
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17 views

Looking for the source of “SJO” or “South Jersey Original”?

Looking for source of "SJO" or "South Jersey Original" used to describe a person from Southern New Jersey whose behavior (usually idiosyncratic) is startling or otherwise worthy of note.
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175 views

Etymology of “bizarre”?

bizarre n. "very strange or unusual" I know that it (likely) comes from Basque. Does anyone have a certain knowledge of this? I heard that it comes from Italian from some sources, too.
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75 views

Etymology for “loganamnosis”

It's a condition in which one suffers the inability to remember to the word he or she wants to use and then becomes obsessed with trying to remember it. What is this interesting word's root? Could ...
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1answer
71 views

Etymology for “petrichor”

It means "a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather" according to my Oxford Dictionary of English. But if it is broken down or traced, what ...
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1answer
51 views

Connection between arachnid and arachidonic? [closed]

Is there an etymological connection between words like "arachnid" (related to spiders) and words like "arachidonic" (related to peanuts)?
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1answer
79 views

Where do all the fox references come from? [closed]

A person can be crazy like a fox, and attractive lady is foxy or even a fox, an old book might have foxing, to outsmart someone is to outfox them, if you are confused you are foxed, and there are ...
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631 views

What is the etymology of 'physician'?

I find myself confusing 'physician' and 'physicist' occasionally. While I know what they both mean, I am a little confused as to the use of 'physics' in 'physician'. How did the term 'physician' come ...
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55 views

where does the phrase “sitting duck” orgin? [closed]

Where does the phrase "sitting duck" come from? It is a a person or thing with no protection against an attack or other source of danger.
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84 views

Etymology: bedraggled

"bedraggled" is a past participle adjective from to bedraggle. In the musical My Fair Lady Higgins calls Eliza a bedraggled guttersnipe. I never doubted that bedraggled has some connection with ...
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139 views

What is the etymology of “word!” [duplicate]

Many people have begun to use the word "word" seemingly as an exclamation point or as a means to be emphatic. Where and why did this begin?
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51 views

Hance/Hence connection?

In researching the verb 'hence' I noted the several forms listed in the OED, two of which were: "hennes or henes" from Middle English usage. Similarly with the verb 'hance' I noted that scholars have ...
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1k views

Past tense of wake: is there a difference between “waked”, and “woke”?

I just stumbled over the verb "to wake", which according to various sources has two valid forms for the past tense: "woke" and "waked". Some further research stated, that there seem to be two (Old / ...
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65 views

Etymology of 'pre-emptive'

Empt or emptive does not exist as a word, and I suppose never has. Pre-empt and pre-emptive according to the OED have their origin in Australian land deals of the late-eighteenth century, where ...
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2k views

Etymology of “a pride of lions”

Etymonline does not hesitate to assume that "a pride of lions" is the same word as pride, noun of adjective proud. There would be other possibilities, e.g. a connection with Latin praeda (prey). A ...
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53 views

Their likes Vs. their ilk

E.g: I can't trust the likes of these politicians. I can't trust these politicians and their ilk. Why is it incorrect to say *like instead of likes or *ilks instead of ilk? Also, does like derive ...
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39 views

what is the etymology of the word 'afforestation'? [closed]

I can get the deifiniton of 'afforestation' from google but not how this word was created at the first place. Does anyone have an idea about it? Also, the affix is not clear to me. Plz give me ...
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74 views

Calculus vs calculation

It is becoming more popular on American talk shows to say "calculus" instead of "calculation." To my mind, calculus is either a branch of Mathematics or a stone like in the gall bladder. Any comments? ...
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78 views

Explode- Word Parts

So I have a project to do and I have searched EVERYWHERE online. What is the root word for "Explode"? I already know 'ex' means 'out of', but I'm not sure that 'plode' is a real root word--Or even a ...
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188 views

How was 'hone in on' bastardised to mean 'home in on'?

The comments under this CBC article impelled me to check the definitions of the verbs home in on, under which a para discusses this debasement, vs hone in on. Yet it doesn't explain this corruption's ...
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5answers
274 views

What is the origin of the phrase, “I'm Game”

I'm trying to understand the origins of the phrase, "I'm game". Now, I understand how the phrase is used in everyday English, but what are the origins of this phrase? How did it come to imply a ...
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45 views

Why are some “-ist” suffixed words used as the adjective form over the more common “-istic”?

Generally speaking, for any kind of "-ism", the suffix "-ist" produces the noun form and "-istic" produces the adjective form. But there are some "-ist" suffixes that are acceptable or even more ...
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86 views

Why is “late” used in reference to a deceased person? [closed]

I get how and when it's used but what is its origin? Why the word "late"?
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90 views

The introduction of manmade structures in the etymology of harbor

In a Stackexchange post, a commenter offers a distinction between ports and harbors: Or to put it another way, "harbor" is a description of the natural geography, while "port" is something made ...
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53 views

What does it mean when someone has “golden pipes” and how did it originate?

I believe I saw this mentioned in an article/blog post I read a while ago. From what I remember, the article was about a person's amazing singing voice. However, I looked it up recently and didn't ...
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55 views

Canny means shrewd or wise how does uncanny turn out to be mysterious? [closed]

Canny means 'shrewd' while uncanny means mysterious. How?
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71 views

Why do we say “Fever broke”?

When someone is suffering from fever, at some point in time when it stops or it starts getting better, we say the fever has broken. His fever broke last night. He's going to be alright. What's ...
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117 views

The meaning of the word 'Han'?

In referencing Webster's dictionary of 1828 I came across the entry for the word 'Han'. The definition was stated as: "for have, in the plural." Source: Spenser. What does this mean and how was it ...
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67 views

Does 'lending' an object require its relocation?

I was recently in an argument with a friend who - equipped with an apparent understanding of the etymology of the words lend and borrow - insisted that to lend an object required not just the ...
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2answers
38 views

Etymology of type cast

What is the etymology of cast in the sense of type cast in programming languages? In Merriam Webster I found nothing suitable: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cast
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7k views

Why is it “behead” and not “dehead”?

The be- prefix in behead doesn't seem to match similar words like become, besmirch, or befuddle. Of course, the same prefix could serve different roles depending on the word. What role is be- serving ...
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370 views

Origin of milquetoast and the negative meaning of milk in modern usage

I searched the word milquetoast and found out that it is a very pejorative term used in American English (after a cartoon character- Casper Milquetoast) to refer to someone of an unusually meek, ...
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59 views

Is there an etymon for scam? [closed]

Is the word escamotage which is found in English dictionaries etymologically related to the word scam?