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

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From Soup to Nuts

I know that the phrase means "from one end to the other". Though I know many dinners that start with a soup, I know none that end with nuts. Hence the question - where does this phrase originate?
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Can I use “henceforth” and “from now on” interchangeably?

Where did the word "henceforth" originated? How could I determine the correct usage of it? Is it also the same with "from this time forward?"
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What line do they refer to in the idiomatic expression “on the line”?

The idiomatic expression on the line has two main meanings according to the American Heritage Dictionary: Ready or available for immediate payment. (A related expression is Cash on the ...
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What is the origin of “Here's How!”?

I own an antique store and found a canapé plate of a bar scene and two gentlemen toasting. The words under the scene are "Here's How!" What is the country of origin? This plate is dated 1933 from a ...
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“Re” prefix vs remote

My first post here, hello everyone. :) Feel free to suggest changes to this question. I was just wondering why is the word remote unlike the other words starting with “re” like replay, reply, ...
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72 views

What was the original pronunciation of 'Zounds'?

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the exclamation 'Zounds!' comes from the phrase 'God's wounds'. This seems to suggest that the original pronunciation rhymed with 'wounds' rather than ...
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What is the “line” in “cash on the line”? Is it a ship mooring line?

In the phrase "cash on the line" (immediate payment, payment during the transaction), what was "line", originally? I suspect it was a ship mooring line but I'd like to be sure. (I imagine a ship ...
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For 'also', how is ' the demonstrative sense of “similarly” weakened to “in addition to” '?

also (adv.) Old English eallswa "just as, even as, as if, so as, likewise," compound of all + so. The demonstrative sense of "similarly" weakened to "in addition to" in 12c., replacing eke. ...
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What's the origin of the “Dare to …” pattern for slogans?

There are many slogans stated as an imperative of the form "Dare to X", where "to X" is an infinitive phrase. This typically exhorts the listener to do X, without fear or hesitation. It may ...
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47 views

Etymology of 'clinical' in 'clinical professor'?

I searched for the meaning of 'clinical' and I could not find any association with academia. Why are non-tenure track jobs referred to as 'clinical'? What is the etymology?
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Etymology of “horny”

What is the etymology of "horny"? It isn't related to rhino horn, because rhino horn isn't used as an aphrodisiac in traditional Chinese medicine. Wiktionary doesn't have any etymology info The ...
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Origin of Soccer

What is called football in most of countries, called soccer in US. However, there are some inconsistent usage of these terms. For example, in Australia, they have Football Federation Australia (FFA) ...
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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'm not sure where I learned this, but to me it means "keyed up and ready to go". A combination of high energy, tension, and ...
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37 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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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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46 views

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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56 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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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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64 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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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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59 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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105 views

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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115 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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73 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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50 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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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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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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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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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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204 views

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. ...