24
votes
3answers
3k views

Why “daily” and not “dayly”?

Checking how adjectives related to time are created, I see: year → yearly month → monthly week → weekly day → daily Why has “day” derivated into “daily” with an ‘i’ instead of “dayly” with a ‘y’? ...
2
votes
2answers
72 views

Where does the word “button-down” come from?

I was wondering where the term 'button-down' comes from. I tried to do some research but I was not very successful... How was the word button-down formed? Is it a compound ? Does it originate from ...
2
votes
4answers
108 views

Why is it called 'passive smoking'?

Oxford dictionary defines passive as accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance. What would we call a non-smoker who resists but still has to inhale ...
0
votes
2answers
133 views

“Sexy” and “sexiness”

When did the noun sex acquire its corresponding adjective and abstract noun? I would really like to know a few things about the history of these two word formations. As far as I know, these lexical ...
1
vote
3answers
121 views

Modern use of “bourgeoisie”

How can I use bourgeoisie properly in this day and age? I understand that at one time it meant part of the wealthy "middle class". Back then the middle class owned the means to production (merchants ...
2
votes
2answers
195 views

“Brunette” vs. “brown” and “blonde” vs. “yellow”

Why is that we never use these terms interchangeably? I.e. one wouldn't say "I've painted my walls a deep brunette". Why is it that "brunette" and "blonde" are used exclusively in reference to hair ...
2
votes
1answer
101 views

Are there any rules I can follow to make my own derived adjectives from a noun in English? E.g. xenogamy to xenogamic

I'm currently looking through dictionaries (both online and "offline") for an adjective of the word xenogamy. Basically I want to translate the Dutch phrase "De kruibestuivende onderneming". What I ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Conundrum: “cleverer” or “more clever”, “simpler” or “more simple” etc

I know the rule for making the comparative and superlative form for two-syllable words ending in y, replace the -y with i and use -er and -est : hap.py → happier → (the) happiest ti.dy → tidier → ...
7
votes
5answers
368 views

Adjectives or words inspired by Helen of Troy's beauty

Are there any adjectives inspired by Helen's beauty? I can see examples from more recent history like: Boycott from Charles C. Boycott or Bowdlerize from Thomas Bowdler. Some Greek mythology ...
1
vote
1answer
121 views

How come you say “best part” if meaning “most of something”?

When I read the first time that someone spend the best/better part of the day doing something, I took best literally. Although I now know its meaning, it's confusing me over and over again whenever I ...
-2
votes
1answer
92 views

Is “fine” one of the strangest words in English language? How did it come to be this way and are there other examples? [closed]

Many words have multiple meanings but not many words have different meanings in the same context. Fine can mean both very good-to-excellent and acceptable but probably below average. For example, the ...
5
votes
5answers
3k views

“Bald Faced Lie” vs. “Bold Faced Lie”

Which of these is correct? What is the origin of this expression? I've searched here on the exchange and haven't found an answer.
4
votes
3answers
401 views

Why is “biblical” the only proper adjective to not use upper case?

Generally, when an adjective is derived from a proper noun, the adjective also has a capital initial, hence Googleable, Mancunian, British, and Shavian. (In contrast, verbs are not given capitals, ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

Opposite word for “cursive”, as related to writing

I looked up the etymology entry at etymonline.com for cursive, which reads: 1784, from French cursif (18c.), from Medieval Latin cursivus “running,” from Latin cursus “a running,” from past ...
-3
votes
1answer
351 views

History of the words “conservative” and “liberal”

I’m curious in the history of political parties of the USA. Initially in 1861 Abraham Lincoln was the first President to represent the Republican party which has always been stated as conservative ...
-3
votes
1answer
215 views

Does the word “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” exist? [closed]

I have heard about the word countless times. However, when I looked up the dictionary, I could not find it. So I would like to ask if the word even exists at all. If so, what does the word actually ...
2
votes
1answer
115 views

Etymology of “modal dialogs” in computerese

When programming you may deal with so-called modal dialogs — these are windows where you are supposed to provide information before you are allowed to proceed any further. A modal dialog blocks or ...
0
votes
2answers
162 views

Modern etymology of “embedded”

Oxford Dictionaries Online defines embedded in the meaning I'm interested in as: Definition of embed verb (embeds, embedding, embedded) [with object] (often as adjective embedded) ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Using “reachable” instead of “available”

Is it possible to use reachable as a replacement for available? I noticed that some dictionaries don't have the former term in their database. Is there any origin for this word?
6
votes
1answer
488 views

Where does “wicked” get its /ɪd/ from?

There are three ways I know to pronounce the -ed at the end of an adjective: /t/ as in cracked. /d/ as in lined. /ɪd/ as in naked I realise naked is a special case because, as etymonline states, ...
4
votes
1answer
271 views

Why does “lactic” have an “-ic”, while “unique” have an “-ique”?

Lactic: "pertaining to milk," 1790 (in lactic acid; so called because it was obtained from sour milk), from Fr. lactique, from L. lactis, gen. of lac "milk" (see lactation) + Fr. -ique. Unique: ...
4
votes
1answer
82 views

Where does “acutilobate” originate from?

I see the claim that acutilobate is a “dictionary-only” word, for example seen in the 1913 Webster’s dictionary. How would a word get into a dictionary that only appears in dictionaries and is not ...
2
votes
0answers
268 views

The Historical Development of Nouns and Adjectives [closed]

Historically speaking, were nouns derived from adjectives or were adjectives derived from nouns? That is to say, as verbal communication developed which came first: the noun, or the adjective?
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Does the adjective “swell” have anything to do with the noun/verb “swell”?

Dictionary.com: swell 1. to grow in bulk, as by the absorption of moisture or the processes of growth. The other verb meanings and the noun meanings all tend toward the same underlying concept ...
7
votes
2answers
11k views

Why do we say “by all means” when we mean “by any means”?

The common expression by all means seems to advocate the use of all means possible in order to accomplish a certain object, when in fact it expresses the use of any means to do it. I realize that all ...
3
votes
2answers
401 views

Original use of kosher in the English lanuage

Recently I saw a post on the meta.rpg.se site that asked When is editing your answer not kosher?, and it got me thinking. Why is the word Kosher used, instead of, for example, Halal, Permissible, or ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the etymology of the adjective “bumper”?

Looking at Etymonline and Dictionary.com only reveals that it was slang from 1759. Why did bumper come to mean unusually abundant, and why is it always paired up with the word crop?
20
votes
7answers
1k views

Why “Greater Toronto” rather than “Great Toronto”

Many big cities have their names preceded by Greater. Why not just Great? Does Greater indicate that the city is ambitious to expand itself? Why is Greater not used for country names such as Great ...
6
votes
1answer
262 views

Is there a name for adjectives that are based around someone's name?

Some examples would include: Shakespearean Christian Mesmerized Pavlovian Newtonian Boolean Darwinian
5
votes
1answer
190 views

Are the rhetorical meanings of “elliptic”, “hyperbolic”, and “circular” connected to their mathematical meanings?

The words "elliptic", "parabolic" (or "like a parable"), "hyperbolic", and "circular" all have meaning in rhetoric. Are these meanings etymologically connected to the conic sections?
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does ‘you’re on’ mean ‘I agree’?

One dictionary says ‘you’re on’ is used tell someone that you accept a bet or an invitation to compete against them. Then why does it use ‘you’ instead of ‘I’? What’s the ‘on’? In terms of the ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the reasoning behind the “urban” slang word “tight” coming to mean “cool/great/slick”?

How and why did the word tight come to be appropriated in this sense, for example as in, "That car is tight, cuh!" ? I mean, one easily extrapolates from the "normal" definition to understand why ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Etymology of the color name “orange”

Etymonline shows orange c.1300, from O.Fr. orenge (12c.), from M.L. pomum de orenge, from It. arancia, originally narancia (Venetian naranza), alteration of Arabic naranj, from Pers. narang, ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Preventative vs. preventive

In this answer about the non-word disabilitated, the word preventative is compared (unfavourably, if my reading of the implication is correct) to preventive. However, I have always used preventative, ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

How did “everloving” become a completely generic intensifier?

Most of the uses of the word everloving I can think of involve either vulgar or violent contexts, so you must excuse the following example: He'd finally crossed my last nerve, so yesterday, me and ...
5
votes
2answers
984 views

What is the meaning and etymology of the adjective “jammy”, of Yorkshire English?

What is the etymology of the adjective jammy? As in, Thou art a jammy bugger! I confess I've never seen the word before. When I looked it up, I found confusing etymologies: one source says it ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Origins of the word “terrible”

What are the origins of the word "terrible". Do the words "terror" or "terrific" come from the same roots? I am curious since I believe the word "terrible" can be used to mean "great" in French.
2
votes
1answer
338 views

How did the word “sheer” come to have such different meanings?

There are sheer cliffs and sheer fabrics. Why does the same word mean "vertical" in one case and "transparent" in the other? Did they develop from different roots? And what about sheer obstinancy and ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

How did “-ish” suffix come to denote the approximate meaning of the word it is attached to?

I know it's currently more of a slang to attach and use it as normalish (see what I did here?) suffix, but still — was there any evolution for this? Also — maybe it had some special meaning?
14
votes
1answer
6k views

Why “unequal” but “inequality”?

The opposite of "equal" is "unequal", yet there is no word "unequality". Why do we use "inequality" instead?
10
votes
6answers
959 views

Adjectives with Latin etymology when noun has non-Latin etymology

As a non-native English speaker, I always wondered why, for example, you say moon, but then you say lunar (same goes for side and lateral, hand and manual and so forth): in some cases, the noun is not ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

“Hard” vs. “hardly”

I have always found the pronounced distinction in meaning between "studying hard" and "hardly studying" a bit amusing. What is the origin of the word hardly? How is it etymologically connected to ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Do adjectives ending in “-ed” derive from words that were once used as verbs?

Talented derives from talent, which is not a verb in Modern English. Has talent ever been used as verb? Are there any words ending in -ed that derive from words once used as verb that is not used ...
5
votes
2answers
483 views

Why is New York City also called “the Big Apple”?

I have heard many times people say the Big Apple to mean New York City. What is the origin of this nickname?
27
votes
3answers
3k views

Why are not “infamous” and “inflammable” the opposite of “famous” and “flammable”?

Why are not infamous and inflammable the opposite of famous and flammable, like incomplete, inactivity, inappropriate and so on?