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

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Should we refer to a female “senator” as a “senatrix”?

I saw an article today that prompted a thought. I only took a year of Latin in high school, so I want to run this by some other people. The article referenced a female senator so-and-so. However, I ...
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0answers
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Where does the meaning of 'underwater' come from?

When we say or hear the word 'underwater', we usually think of this Underwater refers to the region below the surface of water where the water exists in a natural feature such as an ocean, sea, ...
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History of using “fact” as an interjection

There is a common (maybe even hackneyed) rhetorical device of interjecting the word fact before or after spoken statements to emphasize that the statement is true. Here's an example from a TED Talk ...
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Why is it “study the [instrument]” instead of “study playing the [instrument]”?

Musicians often say things like "I study the violin", but "I majored in violin performance". It seems to me that it should be "I study violin performance" to both match with the thing actually being ...
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What is the origin of the expression “do me a solid”?

What is the origin of the phrase "do me a solid"? The definition I am referring to: do me a solid do something for someone as an act of kindness; do someone a favor. Example usage: Hey ...
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“Touched” in “This one is touched, folks.”

Today I was reading an article on a classic computer game, and was struck by the following interesting turn of phrase: "Give it a shot [...] I think you’ll be glad you did. This one is touched, folks....
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Etymology of the “nick” used in “nickname”? [on hold]

I've enjoyed your material on the etymology of the word "nick" meaning: A) just in time = in the nick of time (from notches nicked into wood or also to denote good timing) B) in good ...
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What is the role/function and origin of “to” being used in the idiomatic phrases “there's something to him/her/it” & “there's nothing to him/her/it”?

"something to him/her/it" Google Books (to him): Google Books (to her): Google Books (to it): The phrase meaning "there's something (with respect to/about) him/her/it (that is observable/...
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1answer
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Etymology of “Japlac”

What's the etymology of the brand name "Japlac"? Is it based on the word "Jap" plus a contraction of lacquer? Or is it a reference to Japanning? Onelook doesn't have a reference to the brand name.
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Why is the plural form of “house” not “hice”? [duplicate]

The plural of mouse is mice, and the plural of louse is lice. Why is the plural form of house not hice? According to Merriam-Webster, the word house is already longer in the language, just as mouse ...
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2answers
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The term “color man” for sports announcers [closed]

Where did sports announcers get the tag "color man"?
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1answer
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Is there a similar root for basting? [closed]

Basting a turkey vs. a basting stitch in sewing. Is there a similar root, or so they just happen to end up sounding the same?
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+100

Origin of “run” in “run short/out of /low” on something

Where does the usage of "run" come from in expressions in which you are saying that something is finishing like: run short of or run low on something? I checked the etymology online dictionary ...
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2answers
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Why does 'undergraduate' mean 'college student'?

At first, I thought graduate meant college student, but it actually means undergraduate. Graduate should appear before undergraduate, like undergraduate is born from the word 'graduate'. But graduate ...
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2answers
41 views

Difference between traumata and traumas?

Why are there two plural forms of trauma? How do traumas and traumata differ in origin and nature? Is one incorrect?
4
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1answer
40 views

Origin of “oodles”

Oodles is a common word that means a large quantity of something The word is of US origin, but what is it's origin?
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How do native speakers know which morphological variations are possible in cases where word-evidence is sparse?

In this interesting answer to a 4 year old question (which, ironically, I found by browsing unpopular questions on Meta), we find this tidbit: Just as in Japanese, not only is the "non-native" ...
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2answers
71 views

Are the “umbles” etymologically related?

From Warning: In Bitter Cold, Beware The 'Umbles' And we show telltale signs of early hypothermia, what the doctor and the National Institutes of Health and other cold-weather cognescenti call ...
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2answers
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Why does caliber refer to a dimension?

I often get confused when referring to gun sizes. I often say "caliper" when the term used is "caliber". Looking at the defintions, it seems to make no sense as "caliber" has two very different ...
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1answer
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What's-his-chops? - Etymology

What is the etymology of the phrase "what's-someone's-chops"? Grey Cooper? The one who's married to Amanda what's-her-chops? What's his chops from Green Day has perfect pitch! Apart ...
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Usage, meaning and origin of the “swing state”.

According to Tom Murse, a US politics expert, the expression swing state has two different denotations: 1) The most popular use of swing state is to describe one in which the popular vote ...
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0answers
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Words suffixed by -tion

Words that are suffixed by -tion -or for that matter -soin or -cion - are commonly used in speech and the written word, but what is the grammatical word for those ending in these suffixes and from ...
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1answer
71 views

Why is “everybody” singular?

Why is "Everybody" in the singular? We say "People in Europe are nice". Why, then, do we say "Everybody in Europe is nice"?
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How did “RE:” as a “word” come about?

re1 Pronunciation: /riː/ /reɪ/ PREPOSITION In the matter of (used typically as the first word in the heading of an official document or to introduce a reference in a formal ...
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1answer
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“And was Jerusalem builded here” - in the early 1800's was “builded” standard usage?

In the poem "Jerusalem" by William Blake the line ... And was Jerusalem builded here ... appears. Today I think most people would write that line as ... And was Jerusalem built here . I'...
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8answers
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Why is “Pokémon” written with an accent?

Is there a language-related reason why the word has an accent on the "é"? The Japanese for Pokémon is "ポケモン" (pokemon), so it's not to represent a long vowel.
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Common root (Delete, deleterious)

This answer confirms that these are relative words. OET stops digging deleterious at deleterius whereas detete is reduced to Latin delere and, further, to delinere and lime. I do not see them ...
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What was a century called before it was called “century”?

The term century in the more common connotation that refers to a period of 100 years is relatively recent: The Modern English meaning is attested from 1650s, short for century of years (1620s)....
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Is an English word coined from Greek morphemes considered a loanword by native speakers of Greek?

Europeans and Americans often use Greek roots to coin new words for new concepts. For example, the telephone was invented in the United States of America, and the word telephone is itself derived from ...
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Origin of the slang AmE and BrE usage of “beef”

Beef began its life as an intransitive verb in 1888 and soon took on the noun meaning in 1899 appearing in such expressions as "What's your beef? and "I had a beef with him" (not a steak). Beef ...
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Difference between Grandma and Grandma-ma?

This is my first question here so please be gentle with me. I have a relative staying with me from Mississippi who says things about manners and behavior in reference to his grandma-ma. It goes a ...
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2answers
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Flaying Foxes and Vomiting People

The phrase to flay a fox occurs many times in English translations of Rabelais. According to many sources, it means to vomit. For example, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by ...
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1answer
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How did 'even' semantically shift to introduce an extreme case of something more generally implied?

[ OED : ] II. In weakened senses as an intensive or emphatic particle. (With 6–8 cf. similar uses of just.) 6. Exactly, precisely, ‘just’. Now chiefly arch. after Bible use, and suggesting some ...
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Reflexive pronouns to affect false intellectual tone [closed]

In the comments on this answer from another question, a discussion was started regarding the way native speakers use reflexive pronouns to sound "more intellectual" (for example: "I myself have found ...
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2answers
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Nameday vs Birthday

In "Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 4", Samwell Tarly explains to Jon Snow why he ended up taking the black (joining Nightwatch) as follows: On the morning of my 18th Nameday, my father came to ...
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1answer
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Origin of “Brexit” and “Grexit”

Everybody knows Grexit is an amalgamation of Greece and exit, which was later adapted into Brexit, but what are the earliest recorded instances of these words? A generation or two down the line people ...
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Why is the conflict in the UK Labour Party described by some as the “chicken coup”?

In the current conflict in the UK Labour Party, some are using the phrase Chicken Coup: Morning Star: Chicken Coup rebels are running out of room David Graeber in The Guardian: As the rolling ...
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What is the derivation of “skinny malink”?

But despite my wife’s insistence, everyone knows it is more properly skinny merrink. I don’t care what Oxford English says! Oxford Dictionaries Online offers the following for skinnymalinky (and ...
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1answer
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Is 'godspeed' a religious term? (Can it be used without invoking religiosity nowadays?) [closed]

There is an Urban Dictionary entry saying Of Old English origin, shortening of "Good Speed," and contrary to popular belief has nothing to do with God. People would say this to others who ...
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1answer
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Where does “get-go” come from?

Where does the compound word "get-go", as in the phrase "right from the get-go" come from? None of the dictionary definitions I've seen try to explain it, and the Etymology Dictionary doesn't even ...
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What's the origin of this vulgar internet slang term?

The word fuckboy seems to have materialized from the aether somewhat recently and I can't get a grasp on what it's supposed to mean or where it came from. I've heard one suggestion that it originated ...
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What’s so floppy about floppy disks?

While reading through Etymology of the use of "Drive" to refer to a digital storage medium and its various mentions of floppy disks, it occurred to me that, while drive is in origin a ...
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1answer
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Etymology of “marketing:” how/when did it change meaning? [closed]

The best etymology I could find says the definition of marketing has changed like this: 1560s, "buying and selling," verbal noun from market (v.). Meaning "produce bought at a market" is from ...
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Prof. John Dalton, “daltonism” and “color blindness”

Daltonism is a term coined after the English chemist John Dalton (1766–1844), who had the condition and did early research into: the inability or defective ability to perceive or distinguish ...
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Etymology of the use of “Drive” to refer to a digital storage medium

When did the word "drive" begin to be used to refer to a digital storage medium (e.g. disc drive, hard drive, USB drive), and why was this term selected?
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1answer
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Origin of “Log” / “To Log” [closed]

I've always wondered what it the origin of the word log (as in "a log file") and the verb to log (as in "The server logged this event in the event journal"), in the computer science context. Is there ...
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What is the origin of the term “cooling glass” as the term for sunglasses in Indian English?

I live in India, and in the region where I live, I have never heard the term "sunglasses" used while speaking English. The term used here is "cooling glass" (in singular.) The term gets used quite a ...
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What word did Middle English have in place of “light" as in: “light blue”, “light green” etc.?

In English, we often use the adjective light before another colour to express a whiter shade of hue. For example, light blue, light green, light brown, etc. The term pale is used in a similar way, e....
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What are the pronunciation and etymology of the dog's name “Tige”?

"Tige" was apparently a popular name for American pet dogs even before Buster Brown (1902). I just ran across the same name in chapter 32 of Huckleberry Finn (1884): "Begone you Tige! you Spot! ...
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1answer
115 views

Unexpected Google Ngram for “wifi” [closed]

If we look at the word "internet", we can see that it was virtually unused until around 1990. Next, if we look at the word "wifi" we can see that there was a huge jump in around 2000. My question is ...