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

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How does 'contingent' mean 'subject to chance'?

contingent = {adjective} 1. Subject to chance Etymonline: late 14c., from Old French contingent or directly from Latin contingentem (nominative contingens) "happening, touching," present ...
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How does 'to deport' mean 'to conduct oneself' ?

2. deport {verb} {archaic} = Conduct oneself in a specified manner: deport (v.1): late 15c., "to behave," from Old French deporter "behave, deport (oneself)" (12c.), also with a wide range of ...
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Etymology of 'genus'

Etymonline: (plural genera), 1550s as a term of logic, [3.] "kind or class of things" (biological sense dates from c.1600), [2.] from Latin genus (genitive generis) "race, stock, kind; ...
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How did 'ply' evolve into these 4 different definitions?

ply = {with object} 1. Work steadily with (a tool) 2. {no object, with adverbial of direction} (Of a vessel or vehicle) travel regularly over a route, typically for commercial purposes ...
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Education begins at home

What (from where or whom) is the origin of the phrase, "Education begins at home?" I've tried a general "google" search but have not found any clear attribution yet. It is a basic statement many ...
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Origin of the word “couch”? [on hold]

what is the origin of the word COUCH - the only link I can think of is accouchment (fr for lying in/birthing?)
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Spelling vs. Pronunciation of “hawk” and “walk” [on hold]

Why are the words 'walk' and 'hawk' spelled differently? In British and New Zealand English, for example, these words rhyme: /wɔ: k/, /tɔ:k/. At first blush, I suppose, we might expect them to be ...
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How did the spelling of 'mien' evolve?

I ask only about mien's definition of 'A person’s look or manner', and not the Yao people. OED: Etymology: Probably a merging of two words of distinct origins: (i) shortened < demean n.; ...
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Do surnames have to English language in England [on hold]

I've asked another question, because they wouldn't let me comment on my old question, but Italian? Amazing! As to whether not having an English-language name would make me English or not, I looked up ...
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Origin of using “left” as something we still have [on hold]

People express a quantity of something they still have (but is finding away) by using the word "left". Time left: 2 hours Where does this usage originates from. If one depicts a timeline, it ...
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How did 'wan' evolve from 'lacking lustre' to 'pale' ?

I wish to delve into the definition, which I already understand and so ask NOT about. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. What are some right ways of interpreting the noun 'lustre', so that the etymology ...
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127 views

Is my name English? [on hold]

I have a question regarding my name and English language. My family's last name is Maiorana and were from Yorkshire (or so I thought). The other day my new girlfriend asked where my name was from and ...
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What is the etymology of “run like a dog”?

I've used the phrase "runs like a dog" to mean that my car is on its last legs and can't, sometimes, run anywhere near as fast as a dog can. Can anyone shed light on where this meaning of the phrase ...
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87 views

“Sounds like a plan (, Stan!)”

"Sounds like a plan (, Stan!)" (idiom, used to agree to a suggestion that you think is good) It seems to be of relatively recent origin, if there's really a sound origin, that is. Main Q: What ...
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Origin of the saying 'all wet'

All wet is slang expression (mainly AmE) meaning: entirely mistaken. (TFD) All wet: The Phrase Finder, referring to OED, suggests that its first usage was: "c. all wet: mistaken, ...
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'insidious' : How does 'sit in' mean 'gradual, subtle' ? [on hold]

insidious {adjective} = Proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with very harmful effects: Etymonline: 1540s, from Middle French insidieux (15c.) or directly from Latin insidiosus ...
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did “born and bred” originally have different meaning?

Internet searching suggests the phrase "born and bred in Boston" means the same thing as "born and raised in Boston." But "bred" is the past-tense of "breed." Might "born and bred in Boston" have ...
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Of what usage is “do” in a term like “work do”? [closed]

The phrase work do - where does this come from? Which usage of do is meant in the context of this phrase?
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Origin of “janky” as in, “This setup is janky.”

The term "janky" is common in specific gaming communities and refers to using tactics that are bad or subpar. A specific example from Reddit: So Reynad just climbed about 800 ranks in legend with ...
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“hospitality”: does it refer to the guest or the host? [closed]

Is hospitality about being a good guest, or a good host? Or is it a little bit of both? Would it be the act of being a good host or is it different?
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40 views

What is the connection, if any, between 'adapt' and 'adept'?

The English adjective adept originates from the classical Latin adjective adeptus, to describe a person who has obtained knowledge of alchemy, magic and the occult. The verb to adapt would appear ...
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Does our word for [wrist] watch come from the 1735 English Longitude Prize?

Neil DeGrasse Tyson writes in the book Death By Black Hole on page 314: In 1735, the Board of Longitude's challenge was met by a portable, palm-sized clock designed and built by an English ...
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What is the origin of the verb 'to beef' (meaning complain)? [duplicate]

Why do we beef about things we are not happy with? The OED confirms that it is of US origin, and provides examples of its use from 1888 - to complain, grumble, protest.
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Where does the word “mean” come from in mathematics? [closed]

For the averages, mean, median and mode I can determine that median comes from latin for mid, mode comes from latin for measurement but cannot find where the word mean comes from. Is it an acronym? ...
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where did the term…falling down on the job come from?

What is the origin of Falling down on the job? what did it originally mean?
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'remit' {verb} : How does 'send back' mean 'to forward'?

remit {verb} [with object] = 2. Send (money) in payment or as a gift [Synonyms:] send, dispatch, forward, transmit, convey; ... [Etymonline]: late 14c., "to forgive, pardon," from Latin ...
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Etymology: The root of the words 'real' and 'reality'

I wish to identify the oldest known root from which we derive the words 'real' and 'reality', et cetera. I got as far as determining the origin of the English words real and reality is Latin res, ...
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Does 'fever' share an etymology with 'fervent, fervid, or fervour'?

The ODO entry for 'fervent' recommends to: Compare with fervid and fervour. I did read Etymonline's entry for 'fever' which doesn't explicitly answer this, but I think that I'd need to know ...
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Splitting of a word to create a past tense or verb

So, I was looking at the word "backup" recently. This is the only word I know of that splits the word to indicate an action("I'm backing it up now.") or for past tense("When was it last backed up?"). ...
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Etymology: 'pray in aid'

I wish to delve into the definition, which I already understand and so ask NOT about. I already tried the OED; it doesn't explain 'between the lines'. (See 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary ...
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'mawkish' : What's 'exaggerated or false' about maggots?

mawkish {adjective} = Sentimental in an exaggerated or false way [Etymonline:] 1660s, "sickly, nauseated," from Middle English mawke "maggot" (see maggot). Sense of "sickly sentimental" is ...
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Does “morning sickness” only relate to pregnancy? Did it always?

As far as I'm aware, "morning sickness" as a phrase relates specifically to pregnancy. So, even if you have a medical condition causing regular nausea/vomiting when you wake up and you typically wake ...
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Origin of the word “Thesaurus” [closed]

Thesaurus (Treasure) Origin from old Greek or Albanian language -> Thesari(in Albanian) - Treasure (in English). The word Thesari was build from two words in Albanian; Thes(in Alb)- Bag, + Ari or ...
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How does 'rude' mean 'hearty'?

ODO: rude {adjective} = 4. {attributive} {chiefly British} Vigorous or hearty OED: Etymology: < Anglo-Norman rud, Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French rude, Old French (Lyons, rare) ...
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98 views

Which Mammoth came first: the animal or the description? [closed]

I thought to describe something in my writing as Mammoth, and that got me thinking: was the word originally used to describe the animal Mammoth, and adapted to describe anything that is colossally ...
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What does it mean for a prefix to express transitivity?

[ODO:] bequeath {verb} : ORIGIN : Old English becwethan, from be- 'about' (expressing transitivity) + cwethan 'say' (see quoth). 1. I understand (and so don't display here) both definitions ...
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Etymology of 'impute' [closed]

impute {verb} [ODO:] {with object} = 1. Represent (something, especially something undesirable) as being done or possessed by someone; attribute: [Etymonline:] early 15c., from Old French ...
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How does 'on' + 'against, toward' mean 'again'?

[Etymonline:] again (adv.) late Old English agan, from earlier ongean "toward, opposite, against, in exchange for," from on "on" (see on) + -gegn "against, toward," compounded for a sense of ...
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How did 'anticipate' evolve to mean 'forestall'?

OALD: 4. anticipate somebody (doing something) (formal) = to do something before it can be done by somebody else Etymonline: anticipate (v.) = 1530s, "to cause to happen sooner," a ...
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Why is the tendon named after Achilles?

There are two main or obvious possible reasons: Achilles died of a wound to the heel, from a poisoned arrow shot by Paris/Alexander. This is sometimes fabled to be the only spot where he could be ...
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Usage and meaning of the word “Ragging” in India

This is my first post here on an unwelcome situation in India, described by a word, "Ragging". Wikipedia article states that: "Ragging is a practice similar to hazing in educational institutions. ...
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Polarly opposite connotations of 'head'?

Such aphorisms as 'Think With Your Head, Not Your Heart' connote positivity of the noun 'head', but such English words as heady and testy connote negativity. So why this clash and polarity of ...
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Where does the word mandate come from? [closed]

I am looking for historical information for the word mandate.
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Actual origin of the name Finagle's law

Finagle's law states that Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong at the worst possible moment. It is commonly attributed to SF editor John Campbell. Did he actually coin the phrase, or did he ...
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Where does the term “key-thong” (for flip-flops) come from?

In the east Bay Area of California, in the early '60's, we called flip flops key-thongs. (The spelling is likely wrong as I couldn't read at the time.) We moved to New Mexico in the late 60's, where ...
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Why do people say 'buck' for a dollar?

I grew up in South Africa. When someone said something costs 'two bucks' it meant two rand (like saying two dollars, but South African currency). It made perfect sense, as the 1 Rand coin had an ...
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975 views

Envy is the biggest tribute

The best football (soccer) coach in the world for the past 12 years said: Envy is the biggest tribute that the shadows do to the man. Where does the phrase come from?
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'albeit that' vs 'albeit [it were the case] that'

The first textual para on p 5 of 16 of this PDF written by Dr Peter Williams introduced me to albeit that, which I then researched. Then Google revealed p 116, Complete manual of analysis and ...
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'suffuse': How can you pour something (from) below?

I already understand so ask NOT about definitions, below which I instead purpose to burrow. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. ODO: Late 16th century: from Latin suffus- 'poured into', from sub- ...
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What's the origin of “this is going to come to a head”?

I have used the phrases "This is going to come to a head" or "coming to a head". I think I know what they mean, I think I'm using them correctly. So...where do these phrases come from? And, ahem, ...