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

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Is there any other single eponym for toys? [on hold]

The etymology of 'Teddy Bear' is an interesting story of President Roosevelt refusing to shoot a bear in non-sportsmanlike fashion leading to a new eponym. I've searched a few lists of eponyms for ...
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42 views

Cloud nine Vs. Dante's Inferno!

I looked for the expression to be on cloud nine on Etymonline; it is stated 'of uncertain origin or significance'. My question is could there be a connection between the origin of cloud nine and ...
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23 views

When did corruption, bribery, easy money start to be associated with rot, decay -hence death in English?

E.g. the expressions the rotten boroughs or pocket boroughs used in 19th century Britain to refer to undemocratic practices in the electoral system back then. Also, I'm looking for similar ...
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1answer
120 views

Origin of “you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide”?

What is the origin of the phrase You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. I see it occasionally bounced around, sometimes as an authoritarian slogan. Brief research indicates some ...
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4answers
558 views

If it's incorrect to “learn” someone, then why is “learned man” correct?

I am well aware that "learn" is incorrect when used as "teach" (referenced in Is 'learn' the new 'teach'?). So why is "learned" common fare, since it is apparently just a participial ...
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3answers
199 views

Is there a relationship between “boxing” (sport) and “box” (packaging)? [on hold]

How is boxing (the sport) related to box (packaging)? Is there a relationship between the words which I am not aware of?
2
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1answer
48 views

Origin of Jessie

What's the origin of the name Jessie referring to an effeminate, weak, or cowardly boy or man. Since English is a gender neutral language, it strikes me as curious to see the female name Jessie ...
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1answer
24 views

Is there a categorization of different kinds of words like loanwords, compound words, slang… etc?

Is there a categorization of different types of words in which the following categories would fall for example: loanwords, compound-words, slang words, ...? Is there a hierarchical parent of these ...
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60 views

Why do the French say “dent” where the English say "tooth? [on hold]

I am preparing for an exam in "Earlier Englishes" and I have following question out of a mock exam: Why do the French say dent where the English say tooth? The answer gives 3 points, so may be there ...
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1answer
101 views

What is the origin of “Boxing Day”?

OED gives the definition and a quote from 1833 as the earliest reference as below: The first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of ...
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48 views

Nannicock - a young woman, a fool or something else?

What definition(s) are there for the word Nannicock and what it's the etymology for each definition. (I've checked OED already). I came across Nannicock recently and on looking it up in OED their ...
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38 views

Origin of ZZZzzz [duplicate]

How did ZZZzzz in texting, in comic strips, or online come to mean sleeping or something boring? What's the connection between the repeated letter Z and sleep? And when did it start to be used?
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1answer
115 views

Why does English have a word for pink? [on hold]

We have a word for light red (pink), but not light blue. Why is this? Russian, for example, has specific words for light and dark blue.
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1answer
67 views

So which “wich'” is it? [on hold]

It's generally not confusing to most the obvious differences between a sandwich, a witch and the word "which", but are they related in any way? While a sandwich can be defined jokingly as,"in my ...
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1answer
96 views

’Tis the season

Google has a new doodle that says ’Tis the season when you put your cursor on it: What is the origin of this usage? or even the contraction ’tis? Details: There is a popular carol called “Deck ...
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1answer
64 views

“all the virtues in the calendar”

Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "all the virtues in the calendar"? Doing a phrase search (with quotes) gives many example usages. Questions: 1. Is there an actual calendar of virtues ...
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414 views

Sultanas and raisins, I'm confused

Most Christmas pudding recipes call for both sultanas and raisins. It is my understanding that a raisin refers to any dried grape. A sultana is both the name of a seedless grape, originating from ...
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2answers
115 views

How does 'notwithstanding' mean 'in spite of'?

notwithstanding = [preposition] In spite of [adverb] = Nevertheless; in spite of this: Etymonline: late 14c., notwiþstondynge, from not + present participle of the verb withstand. A ...
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1answer
41 views

What does 'spite' mean in 'in spite of'?

in spite of = 1. Without being affected by the particular factor mentioned [From the same page as above:] spite = [mass noun] 1. A desire to hurt, annoy, or offend someone I ...
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116 views

A frog in the throat

While the French refer to the temporary hoarseness caused by phlegm in the back of the throat as having a cat in the throat, the English version of the expression is to have a frog in the throat. I ...
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1answer
83 views

How did “party” come to mean “gathering”?

Is it just related to the fact that people participate in it? UPDATE. Judging by the comments, dictionary articles are absolutely exhaustive, and it just must be obvious to everyone how 'to take the ...
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2answers
339 views

How did the term “X's finest” come to mean the police force of a city X?

I have often come across terms like London's finest, New York's finest, etc., intended to mean the police forces of the respective cities. I think in the case of Scotland Yard, the term even has some ...
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1answer
66 views

What is the origin of 'bird'

Bird: (Brit.) a girl or young woman, esp one's girlfriend (Collins Dict. ) According to Etymonline, bird: "maiden, young girl," c.1300, confused with burd (q.v.), but felt by ...
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Etymology of “queue” from “cue” [migrated]

Queue has such a strange spelling (80% of it is vowels!) that I wanted to see where the word came from. I searched for its origin at Etymonline.com, which had this to say: queue (n.): late 15c., ...
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145 views

What is the origin of “Kris Kringle”?

In Canada, we use the term "Kris Kringle" for gift exchange tradition in Christmas. It is also spelled as "Kriss Kringle". In US and UK, it is called Secret Santa. Wikipedia says "Secret Santa" is ...
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48 views

Where does the response “Anytime” come from? [closed]

When someone says "Thank you" whenever I have helped them out, I naturally respond with "Anytime". I recently started thinking about this and couldn't quite figure out where this word originates from. ...
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What’s a “handegg”?

What’s a handegg? NOTE: This question is primarily related to the etymology of a compound noun which is not in The Dictionary. There is a hat this year called “Handegg”, given out for a posting that ...
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1answer
43 views

Etymology of 'commencement' (as in university commencement)

Some guy claims that I'll tell you why graduation is called Commencement (and no, it's not because it's the beginning of your "real life"). In the large halls where students and faculty ate, the ...
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1answer
54 views

Origins of “up the duff”

In British English, the term "up the duff" is used to describe a pregnant lady. I've tried to research as to why this is the case but I can't find anything concrete. Oxford has it as: 1940s ...
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1k views

What does “fleek” mean and when was it first used? [closed]

The word fleek is all over Twitter. The @lovihatibot Twitterbot routinely finds it in searches for "I love the word [X]" and "I hate the word [X]", in fact it's the third most hated word over the ...
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1answer
23 views

How did the “erogation” word end up on displays of coffee machines?

According to many dictionaries, erogation comes from the Latin for "the art of giving out or bestowing", but currently seems to be heavily linked to the coffee business. I'd like to know how this ...
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78 views

When was “emoji” first used?

Emoji is a small digital image or icon used in electronic communication. It is also mentioned as a standardized emoticon (emotion + icon) but emojis are usually depicted as pictographs and emoticons ...
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50 views

Origin of the phrase: “they went back to the well”

I am fairly happy with the meaning of this phrase but am wondering are there any good theories on where it originated? I have one theory that makes sense in an Irish context. Dotted around Ireland we ...
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Why is the action of removing a digital file named “Delete”?

After reading these questions: Difference between "delete" and "remove" How much use did the word 'delete' get before the technological boom? Delete or Remove (ell.SE) ...
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4answers
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When did “phone” become accepted as its own word?

In older print publications, I have come across telephone shortened to 'phone, with an apostrophe to mark where the beginning of the word had been omitted. Now, however, phone does not need an ...
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2answers
121 views

Etymology of orchard

Etymology of orchard As a German I would assume that orchard is related to German Obstgarten (a garden with fruit trees), and as Obstgarten has a consonant group of four consonants bst+g the bst was ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “bullet points”?

In particular, was the expression coined by a single individual or is it attributed to a document? The only thing I've been able to find was a non-cited reference to its origins in the 19th century ...
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98 views

Does the word blackmail have a racist connotation? [duplicate]

I searched for the origin of the word and found out that the reason why it's called Blackmail not a different colour is because black fits the evil nature of the practice. But why is black considered ...
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1answer
51 views

How do I use “The screaming abdabs”?

I have recently come across the phrase "the screaming abdabs". It is used in sentences such as "it gave me the screaming abdabs", abdabs being and old-fashioned word meaning 'a case of extreme ...
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2answers
64 views

“tube” vs. “tubing”

I have always run into word twins like tube vs. tubing. More pairs: fence vs. fencing, pipe vs. piping, cable vs. cabling, rail vs. railing, etc. This is an interesting phemonenon. Most of these ...
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272 views

Who originated “Merry Christmas”?

The first reference I can find in the OED to "Merry Christmas" is from 1534. This date very roughly corresponds with the English Reformation and Henry VIII's breach with Rome. From that time the ...
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44 views

Etymology of legend (as used in a chart/map)?

Related question: “Legend” or “key”? Legend, also known as a Chart's Key, often located on the right hand side of the chart or graph. It took me some time to understand what the legend was when ...
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In what context did the noun 'countdown' first emerge, and when did the word first appear in print?

A recent EL&U question (What does “counting” in “Bits of plastic in oceans: 5.25 trillion and counting” mean?) led to a discussion of counting up versus counting down. In the course of that ...
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62 views

origin of “chuck” (as in throw and/or throw away)

I'm curious about the origins of the word "chuck" to mean "throw," as in: Billy chucked a snowball at the bus. The Online Etymology Dictionary gives me this: "to throw," 1590s, variant of ...
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51 views

wrecking vs wracking vs wreaking

What I understand so far: Wrecking - to trash/destroy/be destroyed Wracking - to be tortured, possibly from variant of "rack". http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=wrack also seems to mention ...
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What is the etymology of the word “shanked”? [closed]

I have heard the verb "shanked" use to mean pulling down someone's pants, and the noun "shank" to mean stabbing someone. What is they etymology of "shanked"? From researching online, it appears that ...
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49 views

Definition of a person who “knows not he knows not.”

Is there a word for someone who wants to appear learned or knowledgeable but has no clue he isn't?
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35 views

What is the etymological history behind the mathematical “induction” versus the philosophical “inductive [reasoning]”? [closed]

Was talking about it in a (particularly off topic) university lecture on Emperical reasoning (deductive - our logic-math course, vs inductive - "gravity gets taken for granted"). A reason we were ...
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Does “caffeinated” make any sense?

A while back, when we learnt how to remove the caffeine from coffee beans, we coined the word decaffeinated to denote coffee that's had the caffeine taken out. I've noticed more and more recently, as ...
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57 views

What does “cotton on” mean? [closed]

I was reading a book, and found the the phrase cotton on as in "Aha!" he said, when he cottoned on. At first I assumed this was a misspelling, and it should have been "as he catched on". ...