0
votes
1answer
44 views

Why does the phrase “to take the rag off” mean to excel in the classroom?

A Collection of College Words and Customs (1851) by Benjamin Homer Hall defines to take the rag off as "to excel; to compose much better than one's classmates." I understand the phrase is quite old; ...
1
vote
2answers
74 views

Why do the words ducky and jake mean fine or satisfactory?

Even the Merriam-Webster dictionary acknowledges both ducky and jake as acceptable terms meaning fine or satisfactory and it dates the word ducky back to 1897 and jake to 1914. Does anyone know how ...
6
votes
2answers
91 views

What is the origin of “scrilla”?

scrilla (uncountable) (slang, African American Vernacular) money scrilling: making money. I'd buy a car, but I don't have any scrilla! That car is worth mad scrilla. So what is the ...
0
votes
1answer
140 views

How did the words “petting” and “necking” come to mean kissing with passion?

I'm sure most of you have heard "necking" to mean kissing with passion; however, before "necking" the popular word among American youth was "petting". From Flappers to Rappers: The Study of American ...
1
vote
1answer
62 views

If something is considered the best why is it said to be “the berries”?

According to From Flappers to Rappers: A Study of American Youth Slang by Dr. Thomas Dalzell, "the berries" was a 1920s widely used slang term among American youth to describe something wonderful or ...
3
votes
2answers
83 views

Why was someone considered mentally unbalanced or crazy called a “crackpot”?

I believe "crackpot" dates back to the last decade of the nineteenth century; however, I'm curious to know why "crackpot" was used to describe someone mentally unbalanced or crazy. Any thoughts?
0
votes
1answer
54 views

Where did “I lost it” come from?

People on Reddit often comment "I lost it" while quoting the funniest part of a joke to highlight how funny that part is. As I don't speak English much, I am not sure if this is Reddit-specific, but I ...
8
votes
1answer
272 views

Did the slang term “The Bomb” meaning “Very Cool” come from the American Jazz scene?

Searching Google for the history of the slang term "the bomb" (as in "That song is the bomb") yields a number of results in 40s/50s jazz glossaries, but they tend to at best give an artificial example ...
4
votes
1answer
229 views

Who invented “dooblidoo”?

The word dooblidoo is used by several different youtube channels as a different word for the youtube description bar. I've seen it used by the vlogbrothers and by PBS Idea Cahnnel. Who was first to ...
4
votes
2answers
456 views

Why are promiscuous women known as “slappers”?

Women who aren't interested in much more than sex are referred to as "slappers" in British English. British informal, derogatory a promiscuous or vulgar woman. Why is this? I can't find any ...
4
votes
2answers
149 views

What's the etymology of “humdinger”?

A humdinger is a remarkable or outstanding person or thing. The OED has it as originally US dating (as hum-dinger) from 1905, but says the origin is unknown. Where does the word humdinger come from? ...
9
votes
2answers
323 views

Where does the word “sh**” come from?

Once upon a time in America, particularly during the 1970s, if you asked an American whether they ‘fancied a shag’, they might well have thought of this: And therefore declined the offer for fear ...
10
votes
1answer
214 views

Come on, don’t be such a nimrod!

According to the OED, the word English Nimrod is derived from the Hebrew, where in Genesis 10:8–9 he is described as ‘a mighty one in the earth’ and ‘a mighty hunter before the Lord’. It is ...
3
votes
1answer
119 views

Where does “noogie” come from?

The OED says noogie means a "hard poke or grind with the knuckles, esp. on a person's head" with a first quotation from 1968. They say it was popularised by Saturday Night Live in the late 1970s but ...
4
votes
2answers
597 views

What does “rachet” mean and when was it first used?

The word ratchet is all over Twitter. Some real examples from just now: "All these ghetto ass ratchet ass girls at mchi are wearing these Santa hats, and they all claim to be Santa..." "I was ...
8
votes
2answers
389 views

Where do “shenanigans” come from?

Shenanigans, or shenanigan, also with several variant spellings, can be dated to 1855 USA in both the OED and Etymonline, but the OED simply says "Origin obscure" and Etymonline throws a few guesses ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Where does the word “jism” come from?

Another word of mysterious origins of jism, in the sense of spunk. The OED mentions it is sometimes spelled jizz, and may even be the precursor word to jazz. But neither the OED nor Etymonline ...
2
votes
1answer
320 views

Where does the word “spliff” come from?

Neither the OED and Etymonline has any answer to the etymology of the word. The latter does suggest it may have an origin in the Caribbean, but offers nothing better. The first citation is from ...
2
votes
1answer
753 views

Where does the word “minge” come from?

The slang term minge in the sense of quim dates from the beginning of the 20th century. However, neither the OED nor Etymonline has any idea where it came from. Here are two of the OED’s citations: ...
2
votes
1answer
446 views

Where did the word “quim” come from?

Both the OED and Etymonline offer no clue as to origin of the slang term quim, meaning minge. The OED’s earliest citations are from the 18th, which isn’t quite as old as Adam, but has certainly been ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Where does the word “wankers” come from?

The term wanker is derived from the verb wank in the sense of to masturbate. However, neither the OED nor Etymonline can trace it further back than that: both claim it is of “obscure origin”, which ...
6
votes
3answers
84k views

What does “thot” mean and when was it first used?

The word thot is all over Twitter. The @lovihatibot Twitterbot routinely finds it in searches for "I love the word [X]" and "I hate the word [X]", in fact it's the most hated word and third most ...
0
votes
0answers
44 views

Why does the placing of a y-sound at the end of a name or surname express a friendly or laddish affection [duplicate]

Why does calling someone Jimmy, rather than Jim; Lizzie, rather than Liz, Charlie, rather than Charles, Jonesey, rather than Jones, Smithy, Giggsey, Broady etc express friendly, and sometimes ...
2
votes
2answers
87 views

How did 'arching' come into use as a verb meaning 'to thwart'?

I have seen the word 'arch' used as a verb in the context of a villain causing trouble for a hero, or a hero thwarting a villain. It is also used when a villain is actively trying to become a hero's ...
5
votes
2answers
527 views

Origin of Doobie (joint, marijuana cigarette)

OED says: doobie: a marijuana cigarette Origin unknown. A relationship with dobby has been suggested. dobby/dobbie: A silly old man, a dotard, a booby. Dialectal. First citations: ...
3
votes
1answer
400 views

Origin of “old school”

I always thought the phrase "old school" was a rather modern, hipster invention. It turns out the term itself is rather old-school, with Webster reporting the first recorded use in 1803. But I'm ...
1
vote
3answers
137 views

What type of word is “abnomaly”?

I've got a coworker that frequently uses the word, "abnomaly", not "abnormal" and not "anomaly", but "abnomaly". While the types of these words differ (i.e. adjective versus noun), the meanings are ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Why is “bombshell” used to describe attractive women?

Bombshell is a term used to describe very attractive women, similar to the term "sex symbol". The phrase was notably used as the title of a 1930's film, which incidentally lead to its lead actress ...
1
vote
1answer
114 views

Etymology of “norton”?

The conversation took a turn towards Monty Python yesterday, and in particular the Life of Brian. This film featured as a character (Brian's putative father) the Roman soldier Nortonus Maximus, a name ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

Where does the phrase “in good nick” come from?

The term "in good nick" meaning "in a good condition" came up in conversation and I realised I had no idea where it came from. Searching online seems surprisingly fruitless- there are several roots ...
3
votes
4answers
500 views

Why do the British refer to things as 'posh'

Why do the British refer to something very smart, or people who are very well-off as being 'posh'?
5
votes
2answers
179 views

What is the origin of the idiom “tight fit” meaning a good joke?

I've recently been studying etymology and I received a book titled Flappers 2 Rappers: A Study of American Youth Slang written by Dr. Thomas Dalzell. Dr. Dalzell's research goes as far back as the ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

Etymology of “div”

Acting like a div yesterday:- a stupid or foolish person I started to wonder how this term of abuse came about. Urban Dictionary has a quaint tale:- Actually originates from prison slang in ...
4
votes
2answers
759 views

What is the origin of the slang 'kicks' meaning sneakers

Street culture uses the term 'kicks' to describe sneakers/athletic shoes. I've been using this term for as long as I can remember so I'm comfortable with it's meaning however, as I'm sure I could make ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Does “This blows!” (it's bad) derive from “This sucks!”?

The origin of blow = suck, be bad/unpleasant recently came up in comments to this ELL question. I'd always assumed it was a standard slang "meaning reversal" from suck. But a few minutes on Google ...
38
votes
5answers
2k views

“Screwed” vs. “nailed”: why is the slang so different?

While the two names nail and screw have similar shapes and functions, why do the verbs differ so much? Someone has screwed something sounds like they have ruined something to me, while someone has ...
1
vote
1answer
96 views

Would the word “tween” be considered a portmanteau or is it just a truncation?

Is it the word "between", but truncated, or a portmanteau of "in between" and "teen"?
3
votes
2answers
314 views

Anyroad and Anyway

As far as I know, anyway is a common word used by both American and British English speakers to mean in any case, nevertheless, etc. I never thought much about the word until I noticed that British ...
7
votes
2answers
197 views

What is “chopsing the ref”?

Adam Jones, the Wales and Lions prop, was reported as saying about his policy regarding the referee before yesterday's match:- You have to get the ref on the right side of you. You don't want to ...
0
votes
4answers
794 views

What's the origin and popularity of the word “boss” in the context of refering to the person you're talking with?

In a video game called "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines", a character called "Gorgeous Gary Golden", always refers to the player as "boss". Here are some examples from that first dialog: ...
6
votes
1answer
473 views

Why can a bird be pulled but never caught?

In the UK there is a popular idiomatic saying: To pull a bird. "Bird" is a well known Brit expression for a young woman. In the USA, I think "chick" is more popular. The above expression means ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Origin of “how we/I roll”?

The phrase "that's how we roll" (along with variants) seems to have become increasingly popular in recent years. It appears to draw attention to one's behavior or policies, asserting -- sometimes ...
6
votes
2answers
230 views

Meaning & Origin of phrase “Step into [him/her]”

I've done a bit of searching for this phrase and found the following: "step into" Idioms & Phrases Involve oneself or intervene, as in He knew he'd be able to step into a job in his ...
0
votes
2answers
86 views

What is the correct use of the word “abuses”?

What is the correct use of the word "abuses"? While the phrase: "Human rights abuses" doesn't seem incorrect, "verbal and physical abuses" does. I am tired, so if I'm being dense please don't be too ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

What is swag? And where does it come from?

I'd just like to know where it comes from. This is a word that I've heard all my life but it has always been a special kind of curtain. I was baffled when kids started calling each other curtains so I ...
-1
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are animal names used as vulgar slang for body parts?

Asking this question in strict propriety out of genuine curiosity, why is that in (American) English animal-related names are used for vulgar names for the private body parts? In fact, all of the ...
3
votes
2answers
254 views

Why do people say “that-a-way” instead of “that way”?

I've often the following: Bob: Have you seen Ian ? Geoff: Yes, he went that-a-way. What is the reason people sometimes jokily add the extra "-a-" into the phrase? Where did this come from? ...
3
votes
3answers
936 views

How did “snookered” become a slang word for “to cheat or to steal”?

In this question we discussed the etymology of the word "snooker" as a noun, based on a game played on a pool table. But dictionary.com references a form of the word, "snookered" as a slang verb that ...
8
votes
1answer
928 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
3answers
3k 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 ...