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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

3
votes
2answers
51 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
48 views

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?
1
vote
1answer
26 views

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
29 views

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.
-1
votes
2answers
29 views

Names that are simultaneously verbs (and preferably don't share their etymology)? [on hold]

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
35 views

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: ...
4
votes
2answers
41 views

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 ...
-5
votes
1answer
49 views

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"?
7
votes
4answers
206 views

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 ...
0
votes
2answers
62 views

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 ...
7
votes
2answers
100 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" ...
4
votes
2answers
90 views

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 ...
8
votes
1answer
246 views

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 ...
0
votes
0answers
45 views

Acknoldgement vs acknowledgement [closed]

I've recently found some old scientific articles where the word "acknoldgement" was used. After a small google search it seems to me that this is not a typo but some people use this form of the word, ...
-1
votes
2answers
28 views

A weird use of Your self found in a offer letter sample online

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
133 views

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 ...
0
votes
0answers
55 views

What does this expression mean: Don't let him consign me to the rafters

Some once told me about someone else: "please don't let him consign me to the rafters, because he is one of those irrevocable keepsakes"
0
votes
0answers
35 views

What is the origin of “The lights are on, but nobody's home”?

I hear this one occasionally. Also, the title of Gerald M Weinberg's book "Are Your Lights On?"
0
votes
0answers
49 views

Origin of going “number 1” or “number 2” in the bathroom

I was wondering about the origin of using the terms "number one" and "number two" for going to the bathroom (for those unaware, number one is urinate, number two is defecate, at least in the US). I ...
1
vote
0answers
25 views

Database Quiesce Origins [closed]

Does anyone know the history of QUIESCE as a database command? Which vendor started this trend? I can't imagine all of the vendors gathering to design a new command and use a word that was not even ...
7
votes
4answers
206 views

Did British chef Jamie Oliver redefine “pukka” in 1999?

Recently I've been watching cooking programmes: MasterChef Italia (addictive), MasterChef USA (awful), followed swiftly by Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, and then onto Jamie Oliver's acclaimed The ...
1
vote
1answer
39 views

History and English demonyms

A friend of mine told me English demonyms, words that identify people from a particular place (Roman, Japanese, Dutch etc.), largely depend upon the historical period in which the term originates. ...
3
votes
1answer
49 views

What is the origin of the phrase “throw (someone) for a loop”?

I was just saying this today and I realized I have no idea where it comes from. What is the origin of "throw (someone) for a loop"? Some Google searches show that I've been using it correctly and ...
0
votes
0answers
36 views

Is there a word to describe someone/something that is given a title prematurely?

For example a coal refered to as a diamond when it hasn't been transformed into one.
2
votes
0answers
33 views

Classification: usage in the marine community

I recently heard "classification society" in a conversation - I thought it's an organization that classify or sort things somehow. My friend later explained a classification society is actually a ...
2
votes
1answer
72 views

Noun form for “despise”

What would the noun form for despise be? My current two ideas are despite and derision. According to Google, the etymology of despite is Middle English (originally used as a noun meaning ...
-1
votes
0answers
56 views

A word that means, “Something filled with many mistakes or errors”?

Is there a word that referrs to something full of errors, that can be used in the following sentence? She told him something that could not possibly be pronounced by any human, and the syntax ...
0
votes
0answers
23 views

Is there a word to describe the act of suddenly halting by virtue of feeling shy or intimidated?

I'm looking for a word that can fit into this sentence, "She paused with timid caution and then resumed her lope as if led by the dangling of her small interlaced hands, a magnetic sweeping of the ...
4
votes
2answers
114 views

What is the origin of mule in test mule?

A test mule is a prototype that is used for performance evaluation. It is a common term for preproduction cars, but is also widely used in non-automotive product development. Where did the term come ...
1
vote
1answer
48 views

Usage and origin of “prioritize”

Prioritize is a term coined a few decades ago and its usage, according to the AHD, should be considered informal by now: Like many verbs ending in -ize, prioritize has been tainted by ...
1
vote
3answers
49 views

What's the origin of the expression “blind alley”? [closed]

It seems a bit unintuitive to me a road/alley could be "blind". What's the origin of such an expression? When did it first come into use?
5
votes
4answers
170 views

“bucking for” .. like Klinger

In the culturally referrent 1970s USA TV show "MASH", about the Korean war, character Corporal Klinger acts "crazy", specifically wearing female clothing, ... because he is bucking for a section 8 ...
4
votes
1answer
55 views

Tabbed or Tapped [closed]

I've heard the word "tapped" quite frequently for selecting a person for a job or title but I've recently seen "tabbed" used instead, mainly by sports writers. It just sounds wrong to me considering ...
4
votes
1answer
257 views

The semantic shift of “mundane”

All the main English dictionaries give the following as the primary meaning of mundane: Dull; ordinary and not interesting or exciting, especially because of happening too regularly, ...
0
votes
1answer
50 views

A word to describe someone constantly seeking bewilderment [closed]

So, Jason Silva coined the noun "wonderjunkie" to define this exact thing. However, I'm wondering if there's any adjective in ANY language to describe someone who is in constant search of awe, someone ...
2
votes
1answer
92 views

Why is “number” abbreviated as “No.”? [duplicate]

The spelling of number is number, but the abbreviation is No (№). There is no letter o in number, so where does this spelling come from?
5
votes
2answers
99 views

Where does the word 'Simoleon' come from?

Simoleon is another word for money. si·mo·le·on /səˈmōlēən/ I once thought that the word Simoleon came from the popular PC game The Sims. However, recently I heard the word used in ...
1
vote
1answer
60 views

“The Nuts” in Poker

I read a interesting article regarding origin of the term "The Nuts" in Poker. It means the best possible hand and though a well known term, no-one seems to know its origin. Wikipedia gives the same ...
1
vote
0answers
25 views

What is the origin of the phrase “inconvenient knowledge” [closed]

Richard McCombs 2013 book, The Paradoxical Rationality of Søren Kierkegaard, contains this passage: "...the suspicion arises that the purpose of this investigation may well be to forget one's ...
4
votes
1answer
69 views

What is the etymology of “french kiss”?

The french kiss is a kiss where the participants' tongues are used to touch the other participant tongue or lips. This is an expression I have heard since I'm little, but I am very curious about the ...
1
vote
3answers
60 views

Why two-dimensional presentation of data called “table”? [duplicate]

I just wonder why a word "table" is also used as two-dimensional presentation of data? It's just a single flat plate, I think "shelf" is more proper representation of such a concept.
2
votes
0answers
54 views

How did 'how' + 'ever' = 'however' ⟹ 'but'?

[ OED: ] Etymology: < how adv. + ever adv. 8e. Qualifying a sentence or clause as a whole: For all that, nevertheless, notwithstanding; yet; = but at the beginning of the sentence. ...
2
votes
3answers
84 views

Knick-knack and bric-a-brac?

There are several interesting words to describe the same idea: Knick-Knack and Bric-a-Brac, both defined as: Small, decorative object(s) of little value. Bric-a-Brac derives from French and is ...
1
vote
2answers
58 views

Etymology of adding articles to insulting or negative adjectives

Recently saw Deadpool(great movie), and noticed that Negasonic Teenage Warhead responded to something Deadpool said with "That a stupid." But a few months before that movie was released, I heard some ...
2
votes
3answers
88 views

A word that means cast aside and taken back repeatedly

I need a word that defines that which is commonly tossed aside to be grabbed back again, like a notebook. I'm trying to use a word that defines this implicit nature in an object: something that is not ...
1
vote
0answers
40 views

How does one determine when a comedian is also a humorist?

Wikipedia's list of humorists are categorised as people who write or perform humorous material, but the article also states: A humorist is usually distinct from a stand-up comedian. Woody Allen ...
3
votes
2answers
269 views

Etymology and Meaning of “geodeter”

While researching the source and use of mathematical formulas to calculate the radius of the earth, I came across this passage: Mitchell also showed that the mean radius of the earth was defined ...
3
votes
1answer
73 views

Why did the word, “shellac” come to mean “to defeat completely” as a U.S. slang?

There were clamorous arguments about appropriateness or inappropriateness of Mr. Donald Trump’s comment, “Hillary Clinton – former first lady, former U.S. senator, former secretary of state, woman got ...
6
votes
3answers
126 views

“Birds and bees” origins

"The birds and the bees" is a euphemistic way of referring to sex. As in, a parent 'telling their son about the birds and the bees' would be giving them "the talk" about sex. Growing up, I got ...
5
votes
1answer
73 views

Who coined the term “baseball diplomacy” (and when)?

President Obama's recent visit to Cuba has prompted some news sources to dust off the term "baseball diplomacy" (one example here). According to a paper I found on the topic, "the ... term ...