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

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Vice and Vice President

The word "vice" is usually used in a negative sense in the meaning of "immoral or wicked behavior". On the other hand we have a commonly used term "vice president" as the second person in a presidency ...
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How did the Old French 'rejoindre' mean a retort (only in English)?

I know of the 2 different homonyms behind 'rejoin'; I ask only about the one that means 'retort'. rejoin (2) = {reporting verb} Say something in reply, typically in a quick or critical manner ...
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How did 'countenance' evolve to mean 'support or approval'?

[OED:] The extension of sense from ‘mien, aspect’ to ‘face’ appears to be English: compare French use of mine. [ Etymonline for 'countenance (v.)' ] late 15c., "to behave or act," from ...
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Cognates or coincidences?

Recently, I read an article about so-called toxic behavior on reddit, posted on a website named "idibon". I thought idi- was a reference to idiotic, e.g. the website Wikipediocracy, which is ...
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How did 'bump' humorously evolve into 'bumptious'?

[OED:] Etymology: A humorous formation, suggested perhaps by bump n.1 or bump v.1, and words in -tious, like fractious. (Not in Craig 1847, nor in any earlier Dict.) bumptious {adjective} = ...
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'plight' (as 'predicament'): How did 'to fold' evolve to mean a predicament?

Of the two dichotomous noun homonyms 'pledge', below I ask only about that derived from Latin. For the homonym derived from Proto-Germanic , please see this. [Etymonline for 'plight (n.1)' ] ...
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Are “ball” (formal event) and “ball” (sphere for playing with) etymologically related?

This is a ball: source But so is this: source Why do we use the same word for a formal social gathering with dancing and a round toy for throwing and catching? Is there some kind of shared ...
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What is the origin of “analogue” as a term meaning “non-digital?”

This question came up when having a pun-ridden discussion with some of my colleagues: When and why did we start using the word "analogue" to mean "not using numerical digits?" Etymonline only has an ...
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How are Engineers and Engine related? [on hold]

I guess there should be some relationship between Engineers and Engines, because they sound similar. Also Engineers work with engines. I would like to know the specific instance of what made people ...
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How did 'purport' evolve to connote falsity?

purport {verb} = [with infinitive] Appear to be or do something, especially falsely: Etymonline's entry for the verb just redirects to that for the noun: purport (n.) ... back-formation ...
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'ludicrous': How did 'to play' evolve to mean 'ridiculous'?

[Etymonline for 'ludicrous (adj.)'] 1610s, "pertaining to play or sport," from Latin ludicrus, from ludicrum "a sport, game, toy, source of amusement, joke," from ludere "to play," which, with ...
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Origin of “deez nuts”

I really hate to ask this one, but... When I was a child, some thirty plus years ago, there was a popular juvenile game where you would try to trick a friend into asking a question that could be ...
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Hopefully vs Presumably [duplicate]

Background hopefully (adverb): in a hopeful manner Presumably (adverb): used to convey that what is asserted is very likely though not known for certain. While fully acknowledging, as noted in the ...
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How did 'cleave' come to have two opposite meanings? [duplicate]

I find it odd that cleave can mean two opposite things. One definition being: verb used with object to split or divide by or as if by a cutting blow, especially along a natural line ...
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Could 'heresy' be an accusation at those who follow the philosophy of Heraclitus? [on hold]

The wisdom of the world Tertullian (c160-240)pp-5&6 in Documents of the Christian Church 2nd edition by Henry Betterson:....any assertion about the God of fire,then Heraclitus comes in. Heretics ...
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Derivatives of “ea” in the sense of “river”?

"Ea" is a largely archaic word still used in some dialects to mean a river or watercourse. The Online Etymology Dictionary mentions "ealand" as a term formerly used to mean a watery place or meadow ...
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Boom chakka wah wah

'Boom chukka wah wah' has become a euphemism for sexual activity in recent years, I believe it references porn film sound tracks. What is the earliest reference of usage?
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Etymology: 'as regards' and 'as concerns'

as regards = concerning; in respect of 2. regard [with object] {archaic} = (Of a thing) relate to; concern As per the above, because regard = concern, this question also applies to 'as ...
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Why are certain competitions called a “Classic?”

In the town I live in, there have been a number of competitive events called "classics" (e.g. "Bicycle Classic," "Golf Classic"). I assume this term is used because the event is a long-standing, ...
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'exert' : How can you 'attach or join out' something?

Etymonline for: 'exert (adj.)' = 1660s, "thrust forth, push out," from Latin exertus/exsertus, past participle of exerere/exserere "thrust out, put forth," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + serere ...
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How did 'to' and 'to throw' combine to mean 'adjacent'?

adjacent = 1. Next to or adjoining something else Etymonline for: adjacent (adj.) = early 15c., from Latin adiacentem (nominative adiacens) "lying at," present participle of adiacere ...
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How did 'legacy' evolve from 'contract, law'?

I was researching legacy {noun} which rechannels to legate {noun}: legacy (n.)   late 14c., "body of persons sent on a mission," from Old French legatie "legate's office," from Medieval ...
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Etymology: 'to commit'

I was researching the etymology of 'commission {noun}' which just diverts you to: commit (v.) late 14c., "to give in charge, entrust," from Latin committere "to unite, connect, combine; to ...
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How did 'to hint to, remind privately' mean 'to summon'?

[Etymonline:] summon (v.) c. 1200, "call, send for, ask the presence of," especially "call, cite, or notify by authority to be at a certain place at a certain time" (late 13c.), ... from Vulgar ...
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Connection between “right” as in a liberty and “right” as in the direction [duplicate]

I've noticed that it is not only in English that the word "right" can be used both as a noun (when talking about liberty) and an adjective (when talking about direction) It's slso like that in Spanish ...
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Can *narrow minded* be positive?

As narrow is being not wide and not flexible, can it also be upright?
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What is the term for the origin of a cliche?

From wiki sources : A cliche is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, even to the point of being ...
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Is the pronunciation of “oa” in “broad” unique?

The "oa" in the word "broad" is pronounced like the words "or" or "awe". In phonetic symbols that is ɔː . However in all other examples I can think of it is pronounced like the "oe" in "toe". Or in ...
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Why do people in the scientific community use terminology such as renal, hepatic, and cardiac instead of kidney, liver, and heart?

Why is there the need to map these everyday words onto another set of words when it seems to complicate matters? Is it just done out of tradition, or is there some underlying logic to it?
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Why “thanks” Can Never Be Singular as a Noun?

While looking at the part of speech of the noun "thanks" in an online dictionary I noticed that it was a plural noun and wondered if it could be used in singular form. Glancing at the origin it ...
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On professional bias

The well-known expression professional bias appears to date back to the very first years when professions started to exist: "Professional bias" designates a mental conditioning brought ...
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Why does “footing the bill” mean “to pay”?

I hear people using the term footing the bill used to describe paying for something. Why is the verb foot used to describe the meaning of paying?
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How does 'but for' mean 'if it were not for'? [closed]

but for = 1. Except for = 1.1. If it were not for Please help me dig deeper than definition 1.1 , which I already understand and so ask NOT about. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. OED just ...
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What does 'but' mean 'without its being the case that'?

but = 5. {with negative} {archaic} Without its being the case that I tried OED but its length overwhelmed me. Etymonline doesn't mention this definition. Would someone please explain, by ...
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Where did the incorrect spelling 'explaination' come from and where is it still used? [closed]

The word explanation is often spelt as explaination. Where did this come from? Which part of the world commonly uses this?
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How did 'pick out' evolve to mean 'read'?

Initially, I wanted to know the etymology of eclectic. Then I saw that it referred to lecture {noun}: late 14c., "action of reading, that which is read," from Medieval Latin lectura “a reading, ...
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How did 'purchase' evolve to mean 'firm contact or grip'?

[1] purchase = 2. [mass noun] Firm contact or grip I've been trying to understand how the noun purchase evolved to mean definition 2 above. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. I tried OED but it's ...
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Is 'bug' a term or a slang word?

In my answer to the question about the opposite for bug in programming, I referred to 'bug' as a slang word. Shaun Wilson, in his comment insists on 'bug' being a term that derived from a historical ...
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Meaning and Origin of word “Pantheon”?

I spotted the word "Pantheon" here on the first and second paragraph on The Hindu but not able to understand the editor's view. On the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, on April 14, ...
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When did “More tea vicar?” start to be used after farting? Where did it come from?

In England when someone farts they might say "More tea vicar?" When did this start, and how did it come about? It feels unusual enough to have a definite creation - some comedian perhaps? Web ...
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Is there simple method to determine a word's origin? [closed]

I've looked at etymology wherein there is a brief description of several methods for that purpose: philological research, comparative method, study of semantic change, use of dialectological data. In ...
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Etymology of “high” and “low” notes

The words "high" and "low" generally refer to magnitude or vertical distance. How did these words come to be associated with pitch? We can draw comparison to high ("large") or low ("small") ...
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The origin of “break of day”

I was quite surprised to know that "break of day" actually means "dawn", that is, the beginning of the day. But, the phrase "break of day" sounds much more like the end of the day, not the beginning ...
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Origin of “Stick to your knitting”

I know that "Stick to your knitting" means to stick with what you're familiar with/good at rather than giving your opinion or trying your hand at something out of your area of expertise. But I can't ...
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How to identify if a word is positive, negative, or neutral?

I am studying for SAT and English is not my first language. I really struggle with vocabulary. I memorized about 1000 words for the test, but only a few showed up on the test. I am planning on taking ...
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Most of us had a piggy bank! But what is the origin of its name?

Piggy (n.): "a little pig," 1799, from pig (n.) + -y (3). Related: Piggies. Piggy bank attested from 1941 (pig bank from 1937). (Etymonline) The origin of this expression in unclear. ...
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Why did English adopt both 'estrange' and 'strange'?

I'm not asking about the definitions of estrange and strange, and I realise that modern usage isn't a strict function of the original meaning of a word. I wish to know why English appropriated both ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “hot take”?

I've been seeing this phrase pop up more and more in social media. I wasn't sure of what it meant, so of course I googled it: http://www.vox.com/2014/12/29/7417055/best-worst-words-2014 ...
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How did 'estate' evolve to mean 'area of land or property'?

estate {noun} = 1. An area or amount of land or property, in particular = 3. {archaic or literary} A particular state, period, or condition in life [Etymonline:] early 13c., "rank, ...
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What is the origin of “woof!”?

We know that woof is the sound a dog makes when barking. It is used both as a noun and a verb. The word is onomatopoeic but it is also used as an interjection. People woof too when they are attracted ...