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

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A second crack?

Where does the word "crack" originate from in the phrase "Give me another crack at that"? Curious to know if it's in reference to driving horses? Perhaps a derivative of "craic" in Irish? Or in a ...
0
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1answer
26 views

Where does the word “good” come from?

according to google, and a few other sources, "good" was originally the verbal and adjective quivalent of "god" (hence the good news') but i was wondering where the word originally came from. as well ...
5
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1answer
72 views

Was “God be with ye” grammatically correct at the time?

Several dictionaries I have consulted, as well as another question here on English.SE, state that the origin of the word goodbye is “God be with ye”. Shouldn’t it be “God be with you” or perhaps “God ...
0
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1answer
74 views

Words starting with “touch”

There are several words in English starting with touch, such as touchwood, touchstone, touchline, ect. (a list can be found here : http://www.scrabblefinder.com/starts-with/touch/ ) I would like to ...
4
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3answers
267 views

Did Sir Arthur Conan Doyal coin the proverb: “A change is as good as a rest”?

The proverb a change is as good as a rest is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: A change of work or occupation can be as restorative or refreshing as a period of relaxation Cambridge ...
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7 views

How did 'subordinate' evolve? [on hold]

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition 1 that helps to remember its meaning: 1. subordinate = Lower in rank or position Etymonline: mid-15c., "having an inferior rank," from ...
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1answer
35 views

Why two 'be's in 'be bereaved'?

Isn't the infinitive be in be bereaved redundant? Etymonline looks complex and refers to bereft. 'Origin' on ODO suggests to 'see be-, reave', but doesn't the prefix 'be-' already suffice? reave ...
13
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2answers
394 views

Reversal of the meaning of the word “restive”

According to google etymology the word restive originally meant inclined to remain still. But then it changed the meaning to the opposite. I would like to know if such phenomenon of revresal ...
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1answer
35 views

Are “Speculate” and “Speculum” related? [on hold]

I wonder if any etymology buffs can shed some light into this one. While commonly a speculum is a medical instrument, I know it has other uses in literature and history. Is speculate a verb extending ...
4
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1answer
77 views

Why do we call it “gum arabic” and not “arabic gum”?

Not in use so much these days, "gum arabic" can still be found for sale in small bottles. Is there a reason why it is called "gum arabic" and not "arabic gum"? Gum Arabic - Gum arabic, also known ...
5
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1answer
76 views

Why “on the books”, not “in the books”

On the books means "part of the law". These changes would add little to the civil rights laws now on the books. I know the meaning of this idiom, and idioms are used as they are, but idioms ...
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2answers
34 views

How did 'provide' evolve to mean 'stipulate in a document'? [on hold]

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition 3 that helps to internalise its meaning: 3. to provide [with clause] = Stipulate in a will or other legal document: Etymonline doesn't ...
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1answer
19 views

What is the etymology of “Pasifika”?

What is the etymology of the term "Pasifika", which can mean the Pacific Islands, people of Pacific Island heritage (in a New Zealand context), or a festival held in Auckland about Pacific Island ...
15
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2answers
291 views

What is the origin of “in a jiffy”?

What is the origin of "in a jiffy"? Etymology online Dictionary says origin unknown but speculates that it was slang (cant) for lightning and dates it as 1785. Wikipedia agrees but adds that the ...
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1answer
84 views

Dull as ditchwater (not dishwater) … specific questions thereon

(1) who specifically, or at least when specifically, did originate the phrase? {Example answer - "that was one of Shakespeare's!"} (2) why? (3) when first did someone screw up and use ...
2
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1answer
92 views

Words that changed meaning in past hundred years [closed]

I am looking for a list of words that were used to mean something different from for what they are used now. some words are such that whose meaning has changed completely and some words have more ...
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2answers
39 views

How did 'patriate' develop to mean 'transfer … from a mother country to its former dependency'?

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition that helps to internalise its meaning: to patriate = Transfer control over (a constitution) from a mother country to its former dependency: ...
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3answers
50 views

The origin of “It's just one of those things”?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, "It's just one of those things" means: said about an event or situation that you cannot explain, or do not like but cannot change But what is the origin? ...
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3answers
888 views

Duane “Dog” Chapman, what is the word for the part in quotes between forename and surname?

Apologies if this has been asked before, I found it quite difficult to phrase what I meant! As the question title states: Duane "Dog" Chapman. What is the correct word to describe the part that is ...
2
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1answer
49 views

How did the verb 'leverage' evolve to mean 'use borrowed capital'?

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition that helps to internalise its meaning: to leverage = Use borrowed capital for (an investment), expecting the profits made to be greater than ...
1
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1answer
75 views

Where did the phrase “drop the hammer” come from?

Where did the phrase "drop the hammer" come from? It's what you do when you start to go balls to the wall. I've only heard it rowing.
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1answer
86 views

What's the reason of having prefix “re” in the word “republic”? [closed]

Does that mean there was an even earlier form of government called "public"?
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1answer
205 views

What is the origin of 'koumpounophobia'?

I discovered that the fear of buttons is called koumpounophobia. I've been trying to look up it's etymology, but my usual sources are failing me: etymonline, wiktionary and wikipedia don't provide any ...
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1answer
65 views

Does the “elbow-handshake” have any relation to the phrase “rubbing elbows”?

This is probably answerable with a general reference (or a pair of such references), but I have not been able to find one. Etymology Online does not cover the origin of "rubbing-elbows" as meaning ...
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54 views

Is “bone-off” normal english term or a new term established on the TV show?

On the canadian TV show Kenny vs Spenny, season 4 episode 1, they use the term "bone-off" - it was the intensive finals of the competition where first guy to get boner loses. I considered this word a ...
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0answers
30 views

How does 'so much as' develop to mean 'even'?

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition that helps to internalise its meaning: so much as = [with negative] Even: I couldn't find the etymology for this adverbial phrase? Is this ...
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1answer
36 views

Etymology of “age of majority?” [closed]

What is the etymology of the phrase "age of majority," meaning, e.g., 18 in the US? Does it have something to do with democracy, the age at which one can vote, and the fact that democracy is based on ...
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3answers
81 views

Why does “not least” mean “notably”?

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition that helps to internalise its meaning: not least = In particular; notably I couldn't find the etymology for this adverbial phrase? Is that ...
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3answers
495 views

The etymology of “redhead” vs. “ginger haired”

All my life I have known people with reddish, orangey hair, to be termed ginger haired. Just as you don't call a blonde a 'yellow head' red head just wasn't a word that was said (wouldn't orange head ...
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3answers
197 views

Why is the surname Gray more common than the surname Grey in the UK?

An EL&U question from 2010 asks Which is the correct spelling: "grey" or "gray"? The answers very sensibly point out the split between the UK and former British commonwealth ...
2
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1answer
56 views

Etymology of the “Chicago Seven” construction

There are many examples of a construction of the form "City + Number" used to refer to an incident involving a particular small group of people. It is often used when it is alleged that the people in ...
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0answers
42 views

Why are redheads called “gingers” when ginger is yellow? [duplicate]

The term "ginger" is often used as a slang term for someone with bright red hair. But ginger (the spice) is actually a bright yellow in color. Where does this term come from, then?
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3answers
149 views

Why does “smashing” mean “very good”?

Smashing is a BrE slang which means "very good" or "impressive". Most folks might know this already, due to its use as a catch phrase by various BrE characters in media. However, from the usual ...
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2answers
28 views

How does 'to partake of' develop to mean 'be characterized by'?

What's an intuitive derivation behind definition 3, that helps to internalise its meaning: 3. partake of = Be characterized by (a quality) [ODO] How does the etymology (listed in that link ...
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1answer
120 views

Batman vs. Maxwell Smart. Who said, “Good thinking, …!” first?

Recently, I've come across the catchphrase, "Good thinking, [name/noun]!" three times on ELU. The first was in a question referring to Terry Pratchett's catchphrase "Good thinking, that man!" 1 The ...
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1answer
40 views

How does 'to obtain' develop to mean 'to prevail'?

What's an intuitive derivation behind definition 2 of obtain, that helps to internalise its meaning: 2. [no object] [formal] Be prevalent, customary, or established [ODO] How does the ...
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2answers
33 views

How does “to entail” develop to mean “involve (something) as an inevitable part”?

What's the logical derivation behind definition 1 of to entail: Involve (something) as a necessary or inevitable part or consequence: How does the etymology (listed in that link and here) ...
2
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1answer
23 views

How does “to consist in” develop to mean “to have as an essential feature”?

What's the logical derivation behind this definition of consist in [Definition 1.1]: have as an essential feature: How does the etymology (listed in that link and here) lead to the foregoing ...
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6answers
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How did “stuck-up” get to mean “snob”?

I was inclined to believe that the expression "stuck-up", meaning staying aloof from others because one thinks one is superior, had its origins with somebody's nose stuck (up) in the air and yet, ...
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3answers
81 views

Is the phrase “awaiting customer” bad English?

In customer support software, issue tracking systems and the like, I frequently see a state titled awaiting customer to signify no action is required until the person (customer) who raised the issue ...
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0answers
48 views

What does it mean to drag something in “by the stamp?” [closed]

In a 1944 radio skit, Fibber McGee says another character dragged something in "by the stamp." Is the stamp a reference to rationing stamps used during WWII?
2
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2answers
65 views

What is the origin of “Pipped at the post”?

Why pipped? I guess that the post is to do with horse racing - as in the post was the finish line? I could be totally wrong there.
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1answer
50 views

ten versus teen [duplicate]

Why is it "teen" instead of ten? Where did the word "teen" originate? When you say "sixteen" you are obviously saying six and ten. How did it become six and teen? I already saw the post on "Why do ...
21
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7answers
658 views

Eww! Has it crossed the pond yet?

I hear eww (sometimes spelt as ew) fairly regularly on American sitcoms, usually uttered by a scatterbrained beautiful blonde girl when she sees or hears something disgusting. I don't recall it ever ...
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0answers
35 views

Oneteen, Twoteen, Threeteen, Fiveteen [duplicate]

I was wondering why we say eleven, twelve, thirteen and fifteen instead of oneteen, twoteen, threeteen and fiveteen? And where does "teen" come from? I would assume it derives from ten making me ...
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2answers
105 views

Why does 'threescore' mean sixty? [closed]

I wonder why threescore means sixty. I only found it means three times twenty, the math is correct, yet what link between twenty and "score" ?
2
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2answers
139 views

The words “objective” and “subjective”

We say subjective to indicate that something is based on feelings and opinions, and objective to indicate the opposite. Why are these the same words as objective and subjective referring, in grammar, ...
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3answers
242 views

Distinguishing between “opposites” of “ortho-”

There is a class of transformations in physics called "orthochronous", meaning that they preserve the direction of time's flow. ("Ortho-" from the Greek for 'straight' or 'right'?) As far as I am ...
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3answers
109 views

How come “wise man” and “wise guy” have opposite connotations?

wise man: a sage a wise and trusted guide and advisor wise guy: a smart aleck a person who is given to making conceited, sardonic, or insolent comments ...
16
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2answers
847 views

The U in “Glamour”

Why, in US English, does the word glamour retain its u while humour, neighbour, and others have shed it?