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

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Origin of “a lot”

I am working on a novel set in the early 19th century and am wondering if the phrase "a lot" is too contemporary. That happened a lot with debutantes, he mused.
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Bartleby's famous line

As a class we were looking at the expression in Bartleby that is really famous: 'I would prefer not to' There's a lot of research on this, particularly by Deluze, about how this is a very unique ...
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Need someone to clear this up

If one is 'beyond reason to deal with' then wouldn't this mean that they are more than reasonable to deal with? In other words, I'm assuming to be 'beyond reason' or 'below reason' is the same thing, ...
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What does “corrupt” etymologically mean?

I see that interrupt morphologically and semantically means 'to break something intermittently'. I see that corrupt is formed from prefix 'co-' (which I know means "(put) together") and 'rupt' which ...
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How did 'attitude' come to mean 'orientation' in travel?

I read the question WHY (actually) did Rosetta have to go into hibernation for 2.5 years? that uses the term attitude to refer to the orientation of the Rosetta probe: It spun itself up to ...
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Are there common etymological links to the words “judge”, “Jew”, “Jude” and 'justice"? [on hold]

Are there common etymological links to the words "judge", "Jew", "Jude" and "justice"? One source cited "yew" and/or "yewes" as possible Proto-Indo-European links to "Jew". How about "jewel" amd ...
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Does retard and ritardando have the same etymology? [on hold]

Retard means slow of mind, and ritardando means to slow down in music, and they sound they same. It sounds feasible, but I am sceptical; do they have the same origin?
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The “F-word” in N-gram Viewer

I was simply fiddling with Ngram viewer when my apparently naughty mind made me type the (real) "F-word" onto the text field, (the time was also chosen randomly, (1750-to-1993)), the results baffled ...
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Unseen they suffer. Unheard they cry. In agony they linger. In lonliness they die. [on hold]

Does anyone know who the author might be? Can only find it listed at Anonymous.... Thank you
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44 views

How would you describe the word 'tron'? [closed]

I have searched the meaning of tron and found various results. I though it would be related to working people like robots. Can you please answer me the various possible meaning of tron?
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How did “stone-cold” come to mean completely?

It seems like such an odd arrangement of words that would, in a certain context, mean "completely." Otherwise, it just means "cold." And my Google-fu has failed me; I'm unable to locate an ...
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34 views

What is entware? [on hold]

Can someone provide a concise definition or explanation of "entware"? From the context, where I found the only existence of this world, I may suggest, that this may be related to Tolkien's Ents and ...
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Common English Surnames ending in S

A number of common English surnames are the same as common English given names, with the addition of an "S." Examples are Peters, Daniels, Michaels, Matthews, Roberts, Phillips, Isaacs, Williams, ...
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Can someone explain “olive skin”. When most people would describe olives as green, globally

What am I missing? I'm in an industry that lists skin colour descriptors on your resume but I often found that website forms list olive, dark, light and tan as the only options. I can't for the life ...
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Does “mouse” in the computer sense come from nautical slang?

Computer "mouse" is an English term known and used worldwide. Reference about its origin appears to suggest that the term, which obviously refers to the shape of a small mouse, may actually come ...
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Can a word have two separate etymologies?

A separate etymology for the spelling and another for the meaning of the word?
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When did ‘swipe’ change from meaning “to steal” to being used in transactions?

If I had said, "He swiped my card!" long ago, everyone would have been looking for a thief. Now it is synonymous with a sale transaction. (Can you swipe your own card? Yes, in fact you do!) I guess if ...
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Do “empirical” and “imperial” share a common etymology? [closed]

Nothing more to my question, really. I just wonder if the words share an etymological root. Thanks.
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Etymology of 'smurfing' for money laundering?

I am only slightly privy to the 1980s TV show with little blue people, itself based on the Belgian comics. Presumably, the franchise in some way represents or serves as a metaphor for piecemeal ...
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Etymology of 'examination-in-chief' : What does 'in-chief' mean?

[ ODO: ] examination-in-chief [mass noun] {Law} The questioning of a witness by the party which has called that witness to give evidence, in support of the case being made. Compare with ...
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Difference between vision and prophecy [closed]

Is there a difference between the meaning of the words prophecy and vision? could they be the same thing? If not what is their difference?
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Etymology of “Devil-may-care”

I want to know about the origin of the compound adjective devil-may-care: Cheerful and reckless: light-hearted, devil-may-care young pilots All OED has is The exclamation devil may care! ...
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Is there any Saxon word that contains /ʒ/?

Is there any Saxon (native) word that contains /ʒ/? All words containing that sound I can think of such as genre, garage, luge, vision, visual, etc. are from French.
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107 views

Meaning and etymology of Middlesex

What is the meaning of Middlesex? I read somewhere that seax is an old English word meaning a type of Germanic knife, so was the county's original name Middleseax? I'm looking for the etymology of ...
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“The door is stuck fast” meaning [closed]

As seen in quite a lot of video games: What is the meaning/origin of this phrase?
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Why do people use the term “six figure sum” to mean “at least one million dollars”? [duplicate]

In Australia at least, a "six figure sum" is synonymous with an amount over $1,000,000. The last time I checked, 1000000 had seven digits in it. To quote a recent article in Melbourne's highest ...
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Difference between homo sapiens and homo sapiens sapiens? [closed]

I know the Latin homo means "human being" or "man", while sapiens means "wise". So, homo sapiens means "wise man." What does our subspecies, homo sapiens sapiens, mean? Is it, "wise man who knows?"
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Should LOL be LA? “Aloud” and “Out loud”, a history

Is out loud a corruption of aloud or did it develop independently? (This question is not actually about LOL; it is simply about aloud and outloud.) Out loud is a much newer formation than aloud and ...
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Etymology of “Butthurt”

What is the etymology of the term Butthurt? This link suggests a relevance to anal rape. But the reference is not explicitly described as etymological. Merely suggestive. And the comments point out ...
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Origin of the term “deadeye” meaning “expert marksman”?

The term deadeye means (informal, chiefly North American) An expert marksman Oxford Dictionaries Online (There is an apparently unrelated sense of the term referring to a specific type of ...
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Origin of “Caught between a rock and a hard place” [duplicate]

caught between a rock and a hard place Where is this expression coming from? I understood the meaning but, for me, literal translation doesn't make sense. Can you give me some image?
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Are “gadfly” and “gadabout” related? [closed]

A recent question prompted the answer of "gadabout" - which made me think of "gadfly". Are the two related? If so, which gave rise to the other; or, did they occur contemporaneously? What's a "gad"? ...
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Word that Resembles The Dutch Word Kudde

Kudde, Couth, is there an english farmers word that resembles Kudde. Kudde means herd, flock, fold, drove, livestock, and bevy. So I'm looking for a word that means something along the lines of ...
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What was “Herbal Tea” called before ‘tea’ was introduced in Europe?

I recently got in a discussion with a colleague, about herbal tea not being a correct term, as it contains no tea. Instead, one ought to use the term herbal infusions. Tea (dried leaves from the tea ...
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106 views

“Are you a man or a mouse” phrase origin

Robert Burns associated the fates of mice and men in his poem "To a Mouse" (1785): The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft a-gley, But this seems to suggest that mice and men have a ...
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Why do we use the term “hike” to describe an increase in price, value etc?

The earliest reference I can find in the OED to this sense of hike is from 1904. 1904 Topeka Capital 10 June 4 City Center kept the price of ice cream sodas at five cents until the State ...
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Is there a connection between the words “illicit” and “elicit”?

The words "illicit" and "elicit" seem to be spelled and pronounced similarly, although their meanings appear different. Is this a coincidence or is there a connection between the two words?
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What is the proper usage of “x (read y)” where y is another word/phrase for x?

I've often seen this used for humorous purposes, but I would assume it has a formal usage as well. Example: Mortos (read mooch) is a demon from the Spooky Realm. As far as I can tell, it's ...
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What is the origin of “not hold with”?

What is the origin of the expression not hold with with the meaning not agree with? For example: I don't hold with what you are saying.
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Names that are simultaneously verbs (and preferably don't share their etymology)? [closed]

My girlfriend yesterday asked me if I could think of any examples of names, in English, that are simultaneously verbs. We couldn't think of any good examples then (aside from "Hope" etc.), but today ...
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Go out into the world - The Tempest?

A few years ago, we studied the London Paralympics Opening Ceremony with our English teacher. The following words (spoken by Sir Ian McKellen if I remember well) are still echoing in my mind: ...
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Do the words 'tied' and 'tight' have a common origin?

I was reading a book in supposed 'Ye Olde English' and came across the sentence 'Perhaps she has him so tied he cannot get loose'. This made me wonder if 'tied' and 'tight' have the same origin, in ...
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Why *is* abbreviation such a long word?

No, seriously. I can't think of a single abbreviation that's longer than the actual word. Why isn't "abbreviation" nice and short like the word "terse"?
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Why is a young man called “son,” but a young woman is never called “daughter”?

In American English, it is acceptable and common that an older man calls a man his junior, "son"—even if the younger man is not the older man's child (or related to him in any way). Definition of ...
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Man who confused word order [duplicate]

I'm trying to remember the name of a historical figure whose name has since entered the lexicon. He confused the order of words to say things like it's all nuff and stonsense for example. - I think he ...
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112 views

Where does the word “hardcore” come from?

I was wondering when and why people would start calling music-styles or explicit films "hardcore", and when people started using it as slang. There's a German saying "harte Schale, weicher Kern" ...
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Where did the word Yankee originate?

Where did the word Yankee originate? I was told it had Dutch origins. There is a lot of information on its usage today referring to northern, New England, American etc. but where did it come from and ...
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A swallow does not make a summer … or a spring?

The famous proverb, one swallow does not make a summer means: A single fortunate event doesn’t mean that what follows will also be good. (ODO) the origin, according to the Phrase ...
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A weird use of Your self found in a offer letter sample online [closed]

I was looking for a format of offer letters. I found a letter which had the following line in the end. I look forward to an enduring relationship with your self. I have never seen anyone use ...
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The origin of “two is company, three is a crowd”

The common saying two is company, three's a crowd is often associated with a romantic context: Prov. A way of asking a third person to leave because you want to be alone with someone. (Often ...