2
votes
5answers
109 views

Why is “agnostic” pronounced “ag-gnostic” as opposed to “a-gnostic”?

Gnosticism, for example, is obviously not pronounced with a hard g. As far as I know the modern English use of agnostic is said to have originated with Thomas Huxley, who surely would have been aware ...
1
vote
1answer
103 views

Why is it called “slippery dick”?

No, no, it is not what you think! It is a poor fish called slippery dick: The slippery dick, Halichoeres bivittatus, is a species of wrasse native to shallow, tropical waters of the western ...
2
votes
1answer
176 views

What is the term used for people who drive slow?

I always heard terms like bikers, racers, car racers, which are specially used for the people who drives fast. But what do we call people who drive slow, or at normal speed, or very slow (for “senior ...
4
votes
2answers
383 views

Why is it called a “bank balance”?

When describing how much money is in a bank account, we'll often say that the account "has a balance" of a certain amount, as in: Your bank balance is currently £13,550. Why do we describe this ...
27
votes
3answers
1k views

What does the fox say?

It is true that as a fox, I should know this, so consider this a spoilers warning. In a recent post, Geek Girl mentions that the mating call of the fox is a series of sharp, eerie barks and that this ...
0
votes
1answer
65 views

Etymology of sponge types

Sponges (Porifera) come in three body forms - asconoid (vase-shaped), syconoid (pleated vase), and leuconoid (network of chambers, like bath sponges). I was wondering what the etymology of these terms ...
0
votes
3answers
281 views

“He eyeballed me pensively”; using bodyparts as verbs

What are these words called, and why are they used in place of traditional verbs? For example: She handed me a pencil. [handed instead of gave] He eyeballed me pensively. [eyeballed instead ...
4
votes
3answers
174 views

What is the definition of “iat” in Commissariat/Secretariat

What is the definition of "iat" in Commissariat/Secretariat, also what are some other "iat" words. (Links, if you have any, please.)
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Meaning and etymology of “Hat-trick” and “Brace”

We all know that in the footballing world, when someone scores 3 goals, they call it a Hat-trick and when two, a Brace. I was wondering how these words are related to numbers 3 and 2? Is there any ...
6
votes
1answer
102 views

Etymology of “typeface Weight”

My boss stated that he noticed the word "weight" is used to refer to the boldness of a character, and stated that he felt this was a new occurrence. My gut feeling is that this is an old term, ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the origin of the word “whitewash” in the context of sports?

The term whitewash is used in sports to describe a situation where the opponents are beaten in a series of matches failing to register a single win. Merriam-Webster defines it as :- to hold (an ...
7
votes
3answers
219 views

“He rolled his toilet things into his housewife”

From C.S. Forester's Hornblower and the Hotspur: [The naval captain] rolled his toilet things into his housewife and tied the tapes. ODO does provide a second definition for housewife which ...
3
votes
1answer
224 views

What do you call a past participle+noun construction clause such as “No offense meant” “Your point taken,” “With that said,” and “Given that”?

In reference to my question about the usage of “No offense meant/taken,” I noticed that there are a lot of shortened forms like “No offense meant/taken,” “Your point taken,” “That said,” and “Given ...
3
votes
5answers
1k views

Are camp followers prostitutes?

My own understanding of the term camp followers was that it was synonymous with prostitutes who followed armies around plying their trade. However, according to Wikipedia: Camp-follower is a term ...
9
votes
2answers
432 views

When did British and American crochet terms diverge?

In crochet basic stitches are called different things. For example a single crochet in America is called a double crochet in the UK, a double crochet in America is called a treble crochet in the UK, ...
9
votes
1answer
161 views

Origin of word “pad” in the mixing/recording industry

I ask this assuming there are enough people with experience with electric instruments, mixers, and other recording equipment to make this relevant. On any mixer, one of the first buttons that can be ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

What are the components of a word called?

The etymology of the word parasol states that it arises "from para- (“to shield”) + sole (“sun”)". I would like to know what the two components, para and sole, are called in this example. ...
6
votes
1answer
344 views

What is an 'Iron Ring Event'

In a recent podcast of .Net rocks (at 45 minutes 29 seconds), regarding the future of software craftsmanship, it is postulated that there will be an 'Iron Ring Event' (if I heard it correctly). From ...
5
votes
1answer
226 views

Etymology of “settee”?

I was reading Cochrane's Memoirs of a Fighting Captain when I came across this:- However, at 3.00pm, as a large settee was running into the mole of Ciotat, we discharged two shots at her, which ...
3
votes
2answers
287 views

Why doesn't “campaign” have the meaning of “countryside” in English?

The English word campaign comes from the French word campagne, which has two basic meanings: battle, countryside. It seems that when this word came to English, only the "battle" meaning was kept ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

When did “gay” become associated with homosexuality? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Gay (homosexual) and gay (happy) I'm curious if there's a definitive moment where the word "gay" started being applied to homosexuals. Was it a specific coining, or just ...
5
votes
2answers
315 views

History of use of the term “organism”

I have found that the term "organism" does not originate from any writings of Aristotle or some other ancient Greek, though Aristotle freely uses the term "organon", spelled "organ" in English, to ...
4
votes
2answers
241 views

What is the name of combination, in error, of similar or related words? (E.g.: segueway)

Is there a technical term for combination, in error, of similar or related words? This question is prompted by the following malapropism or solecism, from an article by Elizabeth Montalbano in ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does “air conditioning” always mean “cooling” and never “heating”?

For that matter, air conditioning could include humidifying or dehumidifying, but it doesn't: only cooling. Why weren't air conditioners called air coolers?
5
votes
4answers
1k views

What's the origin of “beta” to describe a “user-testing” phase of computer development?

It occurred to me that I use the term "beta" to describe a "release candidate" of a computer product that has passed all expectations of the development team, and is now being given limited exposure ...
2
votes
2answers
319 views

Where does the term “make sure” come from?

I was reading the Mac OS X Lion upgrade page, and it said "make sure" all over the place. It struck me as odd. Where does the term "make sure" come from? What are you making to be sure? Yourself? ...
10
votes
6answers
894 views

Where does the term “Monad” come from?

I understand how monads work, and I use them on a routine basis. However, I've been wondering where the term actually comes from and what does it mean? Edit: To clarify, I'm specifically referring to ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

Origins of the gaming term “cheese strategy”

In a gaming scene the word cheese is used to describe strategies or ways of playing that are really powerful and do not require much skill from the players side at the same time. The term is widely ...
0
votes
1answer
143 views

etymology of “positive economics”

Positive economics, that is, value-free theory, is contrasted with normative economics which is value-laden. What is the etymology of positive economics?
15
votes
4answers
9k views

Why is the term “depressed” often used to describe a button which is pressed?

In several books that mention GUI, keyboard, or mouse buttons (e.g. the book Programming Windows by Charles Petzold), the authors refer to the state of a pressed button as depressed. Why is this term ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Term for same root word but words with different meaning

Some words have the same etymology, root, but mean different things, such as mysterious and mystical. What are some other pairs (or more) that fall into this category, and what exactly is this ...
8
votes
7answers
2k views

What does “akin to” mean in etymologies in dictionary entries?

Many etymologies in dictionaries say that some word is “akin to” a word in some other language. For example, here is part of the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary entry for salt: Main Entry: 1salt ...