27
votes
6answers
2k views

How did “stuck-up” get to mean “snob”?

I was inclined to believe that the expression "stuck-up", meaning staying aloof from others because one thinks one is superior, had its origins with somebody's nose stuck (up) in the air and yet, ...
22
votes
7answers
4k views

“Take a photo” — why “take”?

I don't understand why it's "take a photo". Why take? Is there any rule for this?
2
votes
3answers
231 views

What is the “pie” in “Cutie Pie”?

Cutie is a slang term used to refer to someone who is cute. Where did the word, pie, in the expression "Cutie Pie" come from? And what is the history behind this expression? I can't seem to find any ...
0
votes
2answers
673 views

Knocked up, two very different meanings. But why and how did the phrase split? [duplicate]

In American English, "Knocked up" means "pregnant." I just found out via an article regarding jobs that no longer exist that in British English, they use use the phrase "Knocked up in a completely ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Why do we use the word “oops”, if something goes wrong?

Why do we use the word oops in a sentence or when communicating with others, if something goes wrong? I would like to know the correct information regarding this question.
2
votes
3answers
114 views

When did speakers/writers of AE begin to replace the noun “quotations” with the verb “quotes”?

Not being particularly adept at using Google's Ngram viewer, I put the two words (quotes and quotations) into the viewer and it displayed a result, with the two lines staying pretty close together ...
1
vote
2answers
737 views

Evolution of “push somebody's buttons” and “know what buttons to push”

Colloquially speaking, "to push somebody's buttons" means to irritate or annoy the person. And, "know what buttons to push" means to know what to do to get people to act the way you want. I can't ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the etymology of “todger”?

What is the etymology of "todger"? My Concise OED is rather vague: ORIGIN 1950s: of unknown origin (also tadger) "Tadger" is just listed as a "Variant spelling of TODGER" Other references ...
4
votes
4answers
6k views

What does “flustrated” mean, and is it a word?

What does the flustrated mean? Is it even a word? I am using Lingea Lexicon and it doesn’t know this word, but the Internet is full of it. I find myself hating people for using it both in English ...
4
votes
1answer
828 views

What is the correct way to write the interjection “ha ha?”

I had a hard time finding the English origin of this interjection and how it technically should be written. I am often ridiculed in written conversations, especially those that are informal, because I ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

What are the origins for the phrases “Knock it off” and “Cut it out”?

When taken literally, the colloquial phrases "Knock it off" and "Cut it out" do not seem to mean "Stop what you're doing." How did these two phrases get their current meanings?
1
vote
1answer
467 views

Etymology of “What could (possibly) go wrong?”

What is the (likely) origin of the popular usage of the phase "What could go wrong?" or "What could possibly go wrong?" as a theatrical plot device or ironic commentary? Does this usage pre-date or ...
0
votes
3answers
575 views

Usage of third person form for first person

Recently, I discovered the following sentence in a Terry Pratchett book (which was not a typing error, since it appeared several times): I sees what he's doing. Presumably, the wrong usage of ...
9
votes
6answers
5k views

Etymology of “to be like” meaning “to say”

It seems that "to be like" is an informal phrase for "to say". E.g. She was so angry, she was like "I'm breaking up with you", and I was like "I'm sorry", and she was like "Go away". Is this a ...
10
votes
3answers
325 views

Is using “all” instead of “all used up” a regional thing?

My inlaws from Central Pennsylvania will say, "The milk is all" instead of "The milk is all gone". Another very common example, "Can you bring me some cookies?" "Sorry, the cookies are all". Anyone ...
3
votes
2answers
580 views

Is there a connection between shy (adj.) and shy (v.) meaning throw?

Most British people probably best recognise the colloquial meaning of shy from the traditional fairground throwing game called the coconut shy but it is also occasionally used in everyday English. ...
6
votes
1answer
737 views

Origin and meaning of “strealish”/“streelish”

I've heard the word strealish (or streelish) used to describe someone with a lost or wan look or someone unkempt or untidy. I know it's an Irishism, but what is the origin of the word and what did it ...
0
votes
1answer
416 views

Why do we say “… by [date/time]”?

What's the origin of the use of by to indicate at/on or before or no(t) later than? Examples: Best if used by 8/24/2011. I'll be there by 6:30.
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Is the phrase “all to c**k” considered profane?

I occasionally use the colloquialism "all to cock" to mean "disastrously wrong". I've always thought it a benign phrase, but recently I've wondered whether the use of the word "cock" in this situation ...
8
votes
2answers
574 views

Where did this usage of “something” originate: “I need a nap something terrible”?

I need a nap something awful! I know what this means, but I could never understand it: it's not easier to say, it's not more efficient, and it doesn't make sense! When was it started (and why)?
1
vote
0answers
117 views

Region-specific game names [closed]

I grew up in a small town in Eastern Kentucky, and we played a game called sookie (soak e). This game is very similar to dodge ball except that it is every man for himself. Adults taught us this game ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Where did the phrase “shut up” as an expression of disbelief or amazement originate?

I recently heard shut up used according to this definition in Urban dictionary. shut·up (shuht-up) --interjection 1. An expression of disbelief. 2. Amazement; astonishment. I've only ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Origin of “blue” for rude?

This question Why do we talk a blue streak?, had me thinking—why do we use blue for rude ? Dictionary.com has it: lewd, indecent recorded from 1840 "(in form blueness, in an essay of Carlyle's)" and ...
30
votes
6answers
2k views

Origins: “try and” over “try to” — how did we get there from here?

In written and standard semi-formal (and above) spoken English, one would use "try to": Try to be a better person. Try to get the fishhook out of my thumb, please. Try to find a pharmacy ...
5
votes
5answers
8k views

What is the origin of the phrase “to go apeshit”?

What is the origin of the phrase "to go apeshit"? An example usage would be: And then he went apeshit over the prize he just won. Obviously there is a strong visual associated with an angry ...
14
votes
2answers
5k views

Where did the term “cheesy” come from?

Why do we call frivolous, lame or naff things cheesy?
15
votes
3answers
17k views

Why is “guinea pig” used as the colloquial term for test subjects?

Why do we refer to people as guinea pigs when discussing the subjects of an informal experiment? Surely mice, rabbits and rats are much more common experimental subjects. Indeed, it's rare that you'll ...