3
votes
5answers
549 views

Does the etymology of the word “government” mean “to control the mind”?

I've heard some conspiracy theorists say that government, when broken down into its root Latin words, means "to control the mind". I'm wondering if this is really true or not. Is it? Edit: My own ...
5
votes
1answer
50 views

Quis? Ego! (Child's phrase)

In British private schools children shout "Quis?" and the person to shout "Ego!" in reply first gets whatever was on offer. The Latin derivation is clear but I have two questions. First, when did ...
-1
votes
1answer
117 views

Why is “success” spelled with double -S?

What is the function of the double s at the end of the word, success?
6
votes
1answer
141 views

Are “adult” and “adulterate” cognates?

The word adult appear to have derived from the Latin term adultus, meaning grown up, mature, adult, ripe. Adulterate (and its cognate adultery) is reported to derive from the Latin adulterare - to ...
5
votes
4answers
158 views

Latin-derived verbs

Are all Latin-derived English verbs regular? For ex. decide, arrive add -ed in their past forms. Are there any specific rules to follow? To spend is irregular: why? Does it depend on when these verbs ...
6
votes
1answer
328 views

Why and how did “a sensible boy” become “intelligent and prudent”?

Italians often get confused by sensible and sensitive. If I tell them He's a sensible boy; he studies hard, saves his money, and plans ahead. They are quite bewildered. To them, sensible is ...
5
votes
3answers
235 views

1000 Day “Anniversary”

"Anniversary" comes from Latin: "anni" [genitive of annus = year] + "vers(us)" [past participle of vertere = to turn]. I am interested in constructing a similar word which means "reoccurring every ...
1
vote
2answers
127 views

Data as a plural noun [duplicate]

In an academic writing, is it correct to make reference to "the data itself", being that data is a plural noun and itself is a singular pronoun?
46
votes
4answers
3k views

Why is “pound” (of weight) abbreviated “lb”?

Answers to Correct usage of lbs. as in "pounds" of weight suggest that "lb" is for "libra" (Latin), but how has this apparent inconsistency between the specific unit of weight "pound" and ...
3
votes
2answers
353 views

Is it more formal to use words of Latin origin? [closed]

For example, cemetery instead of graveyard. In which context would a word of Latin origin be more proper? Or is there no difference at all?
0
votes
1answer
165 views

Etymology of the word 'finesse'

According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of the word finesse is as follows: refinement or delicacy of workmanship, structure, or texture Now, based on the fact that the Latin base ...
9
votes
2answers
393 views

What is the ultimate etymology of “false”?

The first two are based on wiktionary false From Middle English false, from Old English fals (“false, fraud, falsehood”), from Latin falsus (“counterfeit, false; falsehood”), perfect passive ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Where do “‑ess” and “‑ine” suffixes come from?

English has a lot of words that end in ‑ess or ‑esse, such as actress, hostess, huntress, finesse, duress, prowess, Lyonesse, and Westernesse. That looks like a suffix that is also used frequently ...
5
votes
1answer
322 views

Why isn’t “disharmony” spelled “*dysharmony”?

Disharmony is a Greek word with a Latin prefix meaning “absence of harmony” or “bad harmony”. So why not spell it dysharmony, as one spells dysfunction or dyspepsia?
11
votes
1answer
956 views

Why isn't “muscle” pronounced “muskle”?

It comes from the Latin musculus (meaning mouse) and Latin has only hard c's. The "c" has somehow become soft or silent during evolution. Why did this happen? Also, if muscle is pronounced mussle, ...
1
vote
1answer
204 views

Derivations of operation, operable vs. reparation, reparable

After a little thought I decided irreparable derives from repairable, but a few seconds later, decided it stems from reparation, "like operable from operation". Looking the words up, I found I was ...
9
votes
3answers
957 views

As “postscript” is one word, why do some abbreviate it as “p.s.”?

'Postscript' is a single word in modern English, and Dictionary.com states that it's even based on a single Latin word, postscrīptum. So, why do some abbreviate it to p.s. (or P.S.), as on this ...
21
votes
7answers
44k views

How did “sinister”, the Latin word for “left-handed”, get its current meaning?

Sinister is the Latin word for left-handed. What evolution of meaning turned left-handed into evil and threatening?
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Plural of “abacus”

A colleague and I were having a discussion as to the proper plural form of abacus. I believe the plural would be abacuses and he feels that the proper form would be abaci. I believe that abacuses is ...
6
votes
1answer
467 views

Etymology of “duck”

Etymonline and wiktionary don't seem to agree on that one. Many European languages have cognates (Ente, anatra, eend), but duck seems isolated. Where does English take duck from? Edit As Henry ...
6
votes
2answers
814 views

Latin (or Greek) -x becomes -ght?

I have attested two words in English that come from two Latin words. These are "night" and "light". They derive from the words "nox" and "lux" respectively; both Latin — in the case of the word "nox", ...
2
votes
4answers
835 views

nebula and nebulous - a question of origin

While looking up nebulous, I noticed the origin of the word is dating back to 14th century. Surprised since the nebulae wasn't discovered at that time, I checked nebula to find that its origin dates ...
12
votes
4answers
11k views

What is the origin of the counting prefixes: uni-, bi-/di-, tri-, quad-, etc.?

Many English words use the prefixes uni-, bi-/di-, tri-, quad- and so on to mean one, two, three, and four. For example: A unicycle has one wheel, a bicycle two, and a tricycle three. I presume ...
5
votes
2answers
228 views

What is the origin of the pluralization “virii”?

However wrong it may be, lots of people have pluralized virus as virii. I'd understand viri, but what misconception could lead one to write virii?
9
votes
5answers
1k views

“Unicorn”: what other words have this “cornus” etymology?

"Unicorn" comes from the French and late Latin, with the "cornus" part meaning "horn". I am wondering what other English words share this root. I could think of "rhinoceros". Can you think of ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Derivation of “anus” from “annulus”?

I have always thought the word annulus to be exceptionally awkward. I'd like to know the relation between annulus and anus. Geometrically, an annulus is a disk with a hole in it. The anal muscle ...
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 ...