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

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Where does “pizza pie” originate?

The Italianissimo pizza—pronounced /ˈpiʦ:a/—is not always spelled or called pizza around the world: In Bosnia, Belarusian, Macedonia, Serbia it's spelled pica but pronounced /pîtsa/ In ...
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How did 'to intimate' evolve to mean 'suggest indirectly'?

intimate (v.) [⟸] "suggest indirectly," 1530s, back-formation from intimation, or else from Late Latin intimatus, past participle of intimare. [...] intimate (adj.) [...] [⟸] ...
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Where did the phrase, “You did a bean,” come from?

I grew up in Texas in the 60s. My dad grew up in Waco and moved to New Jersey during World War II. He contributed may German phrases to our lives. My mom was born in central Texas, but her dad was ...
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What does “wound for sound” mean and where did it come from?

This is a figure of speech that's been in my lexicon virtually forever. I used it in something that's being translated to another language and the translator is asking me what it means. I wanted to ...
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32 views

Origin and meaning of “chaff before the wind”

I've usually encountered the phrase "chaff before the wind" in the context of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I would like to know where it originates from historically and what imagery should come ...
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Origin of mandarin

A friend of mine said that the Chinese language and the fruit are called so because the officials and governors of the Chinese Empire (initially, counselors) were called "mentors". This happened ...
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61 views

What do 'drive' and 'hard' refer to in 'drive a hard bargain'?

If I have to say that "this person(X) does very good bargaining" in a more refined way, I should ideally write "X drives a hard bargain". (I saw it in a book). I know that I have to use 'bargain' word ...
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Origin of “Best boy” - a film crew position

For a long time I saw a title in the list of movie crew positions that was strange to me, Best boy. Wikipedia says about that: In a film crew there are two kinds of best boy: best boy electric ...
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Origins and history for phrase “tote that barge”?

In the 1927 musical "Show Boat" there is a famous song -- Old Man River -- with the lyric "Tote that barge. Lift that bale." being sung by the slaves/laborers in the musical. The word tote typically ...
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Are these two meanings of “phenomenal” related?

I had seen the word phenomenal translated into Chinese words with an equivalent meaning "of phenomenon" in more and more text especially regarding sports. For example, LeBron James had a ...
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Why is “preconceive” wrong?

Spell checks always mark it as wrong, though its initial existence is pre + conceive; but it is always corrected to "preconceived." What about situations like this though? People preconceive ...
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Did “Dutch defence” pre-date the chess term?

Did the phrase "Dutch defence" pre-date the use of the term in chess? The Wikipedia article on Dutch Defence says the concept described by the term originated in the 18th century: Elias Stein ...
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55 views

How did “but” mean “only”?

but (adv., prep.) : Old English butan, buton "unless, except; without, outside," [...] I don't know Old English. From the étymons overhead, how did but change semantically to mean but ...
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47 views

Why do all new words come from English? [on hold]

English used to import words from other languages. I was listening to a French station and they used the words 'hate-free zone' and 'selfie'. The last time I remember English using importing a foreign ...
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1answer
61 views

A true proven origin of “copy that” [duplicate]

I always thought that "I copy that" was derived from an Italian "capisci" (capire = understand), but today I've read that this may be a radio slang only, not being derived from any other phrase. What ...
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52 views

petabyte vs terabyte, which one? [closed]

I assume they both has meaning like "million gigabyte", right? Then, why two words are coming out to English world?
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56 views

Why aren't optical illusions called visual illusions?

It seems to me that "optical" relates more to the mechanics of light and vision, whereas "visual" is a much broader term. For example, hallucinations are classed as "visual" or "auditory", rather ...
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1answer
58 views

Why is the word “Raubritter” (from German) used in English as the name of a rose? [closed]

The German word "Raubritter" was used as an alias for a German knight with Robin Hood's style. Now it is used in English as a name of a rose. How did this come to be?
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127 views

The origin of the word “Pink” [closed]

I do not know how else to put the question. On my third attempt, what is the origin of the word "pink" in the English language?
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1answer
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Etymology of the phrase “Dependency injection” in computer science

It's my understanding that this used to be simply referred to as "reference passing" but later became formalized into a pattern that implemented a design principle and acquired the new name. Can you ...
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114 views

Why 'executioner' and not 'executor'? [closed]

Doesn't 'executioner' seem like a roundabout way of naming someone who 'executes'? I realize that it's a person who carries out 'executions', but it seems unnecessary to make a word that way if ...
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1answer
72 views

What does “Sport Utility Vehicle” actually mean? [closed]

Everyone knows what an SUV is, but what's with the name? What does a vehicle that can't decide whether it wants to be a car or a truck have to do with either sports or utilities?
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Paradox of language: smelly feet and runny nose [closed]

How come our nose run and our feet smell? What is the etymology of this paradox phrase?
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1answer
48 views

Where does the term “sleeve fish” come from?

I was in a snack shop and reading the labels and came across "Thailand Sleeve Fish Slice" on what appeared to be a package of dried squid. I found limited results indicating that it does seem to refer ...
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1answer
45 views

Lift is for car so what is for bike?

The word lift generally means for car. Then what is for bike? Eg: Can I get a lift? Meaning, can I ride in your car? Similarly, I want to know how can we say for "Can I get a lift with you on ...
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etymology of predation and predating?

Do predation and predating share a common etymology? Predation seems to imply that one species holds precedence over another species in the food chain, whereas predating seems to imply that one ...
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1answer
38 views

Why the words Apprehend and Apprehension have very different meaning?

Why the words Apprehend and Apprehension have very different meaning, though they seem to have same root word. Apprehend - to arrest someone Apprehension - fear, dread
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History of the phrase 'Nina from Carolina'

According to online dictionaries, the definition of this is "the sum of 8 and 1" or 9. What is the origin of this?
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History of the Expression “Search Me”

The phrase "search me" is so ubiquitous in the English language that it is found on every list of common idioms. It is a situational idiom for "I don't know" in response to any direct question. But ...
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55 views

Is there a similar origin for the words 'atom' and 'item'? [closed]

It seems the words atom and item are similar sounding words, and have similar letter structure. In meaning, they have similarities as well, where atom means small unit that can no longer be divided ...
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1answer
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In 'inasmuch', what did 'in', 'as', 'much' mean?

[OED] inasmuch {adverb} = [Etymology:] originally 3 words in as much (in northern Middle English in als mikel), subsequently sometimes written as 2 words, in asmuch, and now (especially since ...
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How did 'without' evolve to mean 'unless'?

[2.] without (adv., prep.) [<--] Old English wiðutan "outside of, from outside," literally "against the outside" (opposite of within), see with + out (adv.). [...] without = ...
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Does it make sense to say “plummets upward”?

According to Google, the word "plummet" means "fall or drop straight down at high speed." So, if I want to say that something quickly shoots upward, would "plummet upward" make sense, or sound normal ...
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Since when and how did the word “virgin” have connotations of purity?

This is what my Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary says on the noun: 1 a : an unmarried woman devoted to religion b capitalized : VIRGO 2 a : an absolutely chaste young woman b ...
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Origin of “Rose tinted glasses”?

On another SE site I frequent, in a question a non-native English speaker used "pink glasses" where they clearly meant the idiom "rose tinted" or "rose coloured" glasses. The meaning of "looking ...
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Why is the 't' silent in 'christen'?

The audio clips at ODO do not vocalise any sound resembling a 't', and the IPA contains no 't': BrE  /ˈkrɪsn/   ;   NAmE  /ˈkrɪsn The 't' in 'christen' and 'hasten' (mooted by this comment in a ...
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On the origin of “exit poll”

An election exit poll is a poll of voters taken immediately after they have exited the polling stations. Unlike an opinion poll, which asks for whom the voter plans to vote, or some similar ...
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Origin of the phrase “it’s been years if it’s been a day”?

I first heard this phrase in an episode of Family Guy, and they're typically fans of referencing older shows and movies, especially from the 80s. So I'd assumed it was a fairly commonly known thing. ...
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1answer
46 views

What is origin of the word “fluent”? [closed]

We often hear people say he speak English fluently. fluent:(of a person) able to express oneself easily and articulately.(dict) But what did that word come from? did it came from fluid or flow? ...
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478 views

Pure Applesauce: What does it mean and when/how was it created?

I could find out what jiggery–pokery means (dishonest or suspicious activity), but what does "pure applesauce" mean? And when, where, by whom, and how was this expression created? Context: ...
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Where does this usage “and you” as in titles come from?

So I'm noticing there are some occurrences of a fixed usage of “and you,” mainly in titles of articles introducing something new or important to reader. It goes like “object inheritance, ...
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History and meaning of the word “clientelist” as in “clientelist politics”

In relation to news reports about modern Greece I see the term "clientelist politics" which I assume to refer to some sort of corruption. In order to learn more I looked up clientelist in the OED only ...
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Why are the buttons on computer keyboards called “keys”? [closed]

A computer keyboard is a board of keys. Why are these buttons called keys? Is it related to the usage of piano "keys"?
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How did 'of' 's figurative meanings evolve from 'away, away from'?

of (prep.) [⇐] Old English of, unstressed form of æf (prep., adv.) "away, away from," [...], from PIE *apo- "off, away" (see apo-). Primary sense in Old English still was "away," but shifted in ...
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After verbs, how does 'from' compare with 'of'?

(TL;DR) 1. I've been plagued by the postverbal use of the preposition 'of'. After verbs, when describing attributes like origin or source, what are the differences between 'from' and 'of'? The verbs ...
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1answer
38 views

What's the etymology of 'of' after verbs?

(TL;DR) While reading about preposition of on OED (eg avail of, enquire of), I encountered a possible explanation: quoted below, OED claims that the postverbal of originates from the genitive case, ...
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Describing People as from (or belonging to) a Country [duplicate]

People from India are Indians People from Rwanda are Rwandans People from Japan are Japanese People from China are Chinese What are these words (indicating citizenship of some country) known as ? ...
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Who is the originator of the proverb, “be (not) worth the candle?

There is the following passage in Jeffery Archer’s fiction, “Be careful what you wish for”: “If Diego failed to turn up, Cedric had already decided that the game wouldn’t be worth the candle, to ...
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60 views

Usage of Disproven [duplicate]

How would you use disproven in a sentence please? Is disproven interchangeable with disproved?