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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

0
votes
1answer
31 views

What is the origin of the phrase 'Variety is the spice of life'? [on hold]

I often find myself using the phrase variety is the spice of life when referring to differences in objects. Where did this phrase originate from?
0
votes
3answers
80 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
votes
2answers
789 views

The U in “Glamour”

Why, in US English, does the word glamour retain its u while humour, neighbour, and others have shed it?
0
votes
2answers
74 views

“Sober as a judge” vs. “Drunk as a lord”. Why judge? Why lord?

Sober as a judge is a simile that is used for someone completely sober. Drunk as a lord is a simile that is used for someone completely drunk. Why is judge equated with sobriety and lord with ...
3
votes
1answer
87 views

Did “brushwoodsmen” exist?

While talking to someone about surnames and ties to various jobs in the past ("Coopers" worked on barrels, "Smiths" made things, etc.) I asked about "Brushwood". He said that name tied to ...
1
vote
1answer
54 views

Trans vs Transgender vs Transsexual

As I understand it, trans means "an individual whose gender identity is different than what they were designated at birth". However, I also hear the terms transgender and transsexual used for similar ...
1
vote
0answers
62 views

The antonym of word Schadenfreude is Fribbly - the Joy In other's Joy - when did this new meaning of the word start?

For many years the word Fribbly has been used, in various communities as the antonym of Schadenfreude. rather than Harm-Joy or "pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others". Fribbly is Joy-Joy ...
1
vote
1answer
42 views

Origin of “as all get out” meaning “to the utmost degree”

At reference.com, all get out is glossed as “in the extreme; to the utmost degree”, and at thefreedictionary.com as an unimaginably large amount; “British say ‘it rained like billyo’ where ...
-1
votes
2answers
38 views

Origin of “go into hock” [closed]

We will have to go into hock to buy a house. What is the origin of the idiom?
22
votes
7answers
4k views

“Take a photo” — why “take”?

I don't understand why it's "take a photo". Why take? Is there any rule for this?
4
votes
2answers
110 views

Why does the word “tortilla” refer to three distinct types of edibles?

The crisps[BrEn]/chips[AmEn] that are made of corn (and probably not deep-fried) are called tortilla: The wraps with that special taste, are called tortila: And then, the omelet-like meal is ...
4
votes
1answer
55 views

Best etymological calque of the word Schadenfreude

This question is purely theoretical (i.e. I don't foresee actually trying to use the word), but using arguments based on etymology, as well as euphony and (least importantly) comprehensibility, what ...
-1
votes
0answers
29 views

What is etymology and meaning of solicious? [closed]

Urban Dictionary describes solicious as below.. A person who is confident, self-assured and embraces what makes him/her unique. Beautiful, smart and sexy, simultaneously. Uses specific qualities to ...
1
vote
1answer
70 views

Can all verbs ending in “-ise” be written with the suffix “ize”? [closed]

Are there any "-ise" (or "-yse") words which cannot be (or are never) written using "-ize"? I searched for prior questions, and came across: Correct use of "ise" vs "ize" at the ...
0
votes
0answers
30 views

Contrator, contractee… and disease?

On my security card at work is written "Contractor" in big, bold, capital letters. A thought just crossed my mind (as I work for a medical company): If I am the contractor, am I the one passing the ...
1
vote
1answer
33 views

What is the origin of the suffix: 'ship'? [duplicate]

What is the origin of the suffix: 'ship'? Why was it chosen to become as a suffix ? What made it special over other words like maybe 'cart' or 'rainbow' or something? ie friendSHIP might have ...
1
vote
2answers
116 views

What is a thorpe?

# is an octothorpe * is a hexathorpe + a quadrathorpe - a duothorpe but What is a thorpe??? This question came from an argument in comments on stackoverflow that started over an American calling ...
2
votes
1answer
43 views

What does the suffix -ling mean? [closed]

What does the suffix -ling mean. As in inkling...
0
votes
2answers
68 views

Etymology of “shagged [out]” (BrE exhausted, knackered)

I was intrigued by this comment to an earlier ELU post... [shagged out] Meaning 'very tired', presumably originating from having lots of sex but used generally to mean tired for whatever reason ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Dust vs. Undust?

The entry for "dust" from LDOCE says: dust1 (n.) [uncountable] → HOUSEHOLD dry powder consisting of extremely small bits of dirt that is in buildings on furniture, floors, etc. if they ...
2
votes
3answers
209 views

What is the right description of the word “squeaky” in “squeaky clean”?

Is squeaky in "squeaky clean" an onomatopoeia? Is there a right word to describe this word, other than simply an "adjective"? It's something that uses the description of a sound as an adjective. ...
1
vote
2answers
157 views

Why does -istic turn some words negative?

The definition of -istic is: Used to form adjectives from nouns, especially nouns in -ist and -ism, with the meaning "of or pertaining to" said nouns. I don't see anything in there that could ...
2
votes
4answers
142 views

Difference between “encampment” and “camp”

I recently came across the term encampment. Although I could understand that the word must be very close related to camp, it bugs me that I don't understand why such a long word for the same thing ...
4
votes
1answer
64 views

Words with Gomorrah as etymon

The name of the city of Sodom is the etymon of sodomy. Question: Are there words in English for which Gomorrah is an etymon? According to Online Etymology Dictionary the unit omer is related to ...
1
vote
1answer
68 views

What is the origin of the phrase “bo selecta”?

The phrase means literally "good song" or "good DJ". selecta is the DJ ("the selector"). But why that spelling? And where does bo come from? Is it from the French beau or the Latin bona? Is there a ...
2
votes
1answer
58 views

When/by whom was the computing use of “agnostic” to mean independent coined?

Agnostic, as a term to refer to a particular philosophy with respect to spirituality and mysticism, was coined by Thomas Huxley; Wikipedia gives the date as 1869 while Wiktionary says 1870, but the ...
0
votes
1answer
39 views

Is there an historical thesaurus?

Is there something like a thesaurus that offers terms more often used in the past? For instance, I beg you would in Shakespearean times be prithee, while chicks during the 1920s would be dolls. ...
0
votes
1answer
64 views

Changes in meaning of “bad” and “bad ass” [duplicate]

How did the definition of bad change over time? When did it change to mean good?
8
votes
3answers
389 views

What is the origin of the “towards a new” used in the titles of some research articles?

Examples: "Towards a new agenda for transforming war economies" "Towards a new agenda for Japanese telecommunications" "Towards a new age in the treatment of multiple myeloma" As I mentioned in ...
-1
votes
1answer
47 views

etymology: drag (clothing)

I've seen conflicting accounts as the etymology of 'drag' (as in: drag queen). the first being acronymical of "Dressed as A Girl". the second as: One suggested etymological root is 19th-century ...
1
vote
2answers
95 views

what are the origins of hi, hey, hello?

What are the origins of hi, hey and hello? Are they related?
1
vote
1answer
39 views

I am looking for triplets of synonyms? [closed]

I am looking for triplets of synonyms or words which were close in meaning in the past, but changed their meaning. So, I want a pivot word, such that one word in the triplet used to mean that pivot ...
0
votes
2answers
39 views

Which is more correct: “skewen” or “skewn”?

Which spelling for the past participle of skew is more correct: skewen or skewn? (I recognise it is not the more common spelling of skewed, but regionally and personally skewen is more in use in ...
5
votes
1answer
173 views

Origin of “Why is a mouse when it spins?” riddle

Question: "Why is a mouse when it spins?" Answer: "Because the higher the fewer." There are some great responses regarding the provenance of this seemingly-nonsensical riddle at this ...
0
votes
2answers
32 views

Is there a word for someone being both 'Spectator and Participant'?

I was wondering if there is a single word for someone being 'both spectator and participant', as in "In the grand scheme of universe I am just another identity who is both a spectator and a ...
10
votes
2answers
998 views

Why do we refer to car manufacturer as 'Make'?

When I first encountered it years ago, I was pretty sure it must be a mistake. Although I got used to it, it still does not feel right. What is the reason for that? Is it something specific to the ...
3
votes
2answers
107 views

How to say “Castile” [closed]

I am from Castile, NY. As far as I can tell it is the only town in the USA with that name. We say the name like /kae-STAI-ol/, but I am aware that many people pronounce it like /kae-STEEL/. The name ...
0
votes
2answers
46 views

Does syllabus derive from Greek or Latin?

I'm looking for some hard evidence to determine whether syllabus is a word that derives from Greek or Latin. This came about from a discussion asking whether the plural of syllabus is "syllabuses" or ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Is “Ur-moment” a normal English expression?

The New York Times article of this past July 29th titled, “The D.O. Is In Now: Osteopathic Schools Turn Out Nearly a Third of All Med School Grads,” features the growing popularity of the Touro ...
2
votes
2answers
83 views

Why do we say “in” a movie but “on” a TV show?

When referring to a television program, my experience tells me that it is proper to use “on” whether I’m referring to an actor on the show or events on the show or anything. Did you see Matt ...
6
votes
2answers
588 views

Last names that are English words with an extra 'e'

I noticed that there are a lot of last names that have an 'e' at the end. The pronunciation usually isn't changed from that of the base word. Poole Steele Browne Clarke Why do English words not ...
11
votes
10answers
4k views

What is the opposite of an Epiphany?

I think of an Epiphany as a "Eureka Moment" as in a goldminer crying out, "Eureka!" upon discovering a vein of gold (I'm a native Californian (and former resident of Eureka), so that example comes ...
2
votes
3answers
215 views

Origin of “name happened” form: from “s*** happens” via “magic happens”?

There’s a form in current English Then <X> happened or <X> happened, where you transition the name of a thing (a person, a fictitious character, or object), to mean the dramatic ...
2
votes
2answers
109 views

Origin of the expression “pull your finger out”

I've heard that "pull your finger out" came from muzzle loaded gunnery. One of the team firing the gun would put his finger in the hole during loading to prevent embers being ejected form the hole. ...
2
votes
1answer
84 views

What are the most common ways to say “die”, i.e. pass away? [closed]

It seems like my question was too broad to answer. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I've edited my question a little. So, I would like to know what common terms I can use instead of the word "die." ...
6
votes
1answer
118 views

Where did we get “buster” as in “Look here, buster”?

Americans, at least, have for some time used buster in speech or dialogue as a generic form of address. It has a range of tonalities, from light to affectionate to grimly confrontational. Listen, ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

Etymology of “throw good money after bad”?

The idiom "throwing good money after bad" refers to spending more money on something problematic that one has already spent money on, in the (presumably futile) hopes of fixing it or recouping one's ...
4
votes
3answers
92 views

Origin of British term “to bits”

British people sometimes use "love to bits" and "thrilled/chuffed to bits" to indicate extremes. Despite searching high and low, I could not find the origin of the phrase "to bits", other than ...
0
votes
2answers
51 views

Origin of “Arachnoleptic fit”

In various websites on the Internet, including http://www.joke-archives.com/dictionaries/dictionarywords.html, I've come across the phrase Arachnoleptic fit. Apparently all the words in that set ...
1
vote
2answers
80 views

What is the primary meaning of 'knocked up'

There seem to be several meanings; Awoken in the morning; Made pregnant; Put together/prepared quickly or on the fly; Made tired/worn out. I have never heard of this last meaning which (used earlier ...