0
votes
1answer
40 views

What are the common ways to say “die” ie pass away

I have heard of phrases like pass away, lose one's life, kick the bucket, depart this life, went to sleep, etc. before, but I am not sure which one to use in different situations. I think some of ...
2
votes
1answer
108 views

“Nightmare” derivation

I did some research about word nightmare. In most cases this is what I've found: night + Old English mære "incubus." I would like to use the word mare for poetic purposes, but its meaning in ...
2
votes
1answer
97 views

Can someone provide an explanation regarding the etymology of the adjective “hell-bent?”

It's etymology is given as: hell-bent, 1835, U.S., originally slang, from hell + bent How do the the words "hell + bent," when taken together, form the definition "determined to achieve ...
4
votes
1answer
113 views

“Holy Spirit” or “Holy Ghost”? [closed]

Until today I believed that both terms are basically the same. But our English teacher told us that the correct term is Holy Spirit. Is there any difference between Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost? I ...
1
vote
1answer
53 views

Streamer/Ribbon Difference Question

Just a different question but it's bugging me, I need an answer. I used to come from France to the USA when i was a boy to visit my family, and to my great annoyance (they thought it would suit my ...
9
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the origin of the word “Blackmail”?

How did the word blackmail originate? The words "black" and "mail" (if you split them out) have no relation to the meaning of the combined word. How was the word choice made? Also, how has the term's ...
5
votes
6answers
6k 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.
0
votes
3answers
349 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
248 views

Why is “sorry” used for both apology and sympathy?

Why is the word "sorry" used for this dual purpose? It seems to me they really have nothing to do with each other at all. Is it purely coincidence, like the dual meaning of "bore"? I find this ...
2
votes
1answer
100 views

When a person in public life inadvertently coins an expression, what is it called?

It often happens that a political or other figure makes a remark on to which the media fasten. That remark then goes on to become part of the language. Examples were Poindexter's 'plausible ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

Is 'disinstruct' or 'de-instruct' legitimate usage?

When you engage a lawyer or an estate agent, for example, you instruct them. What is the most appropriate word to use when you decide you've had enough and want to get rid of them? There are several ...
10
votes
1answer
414 views

How did “inmate” evolve to only apply to prisons and asylums?

If you look at census records from the 1920s and before, dorm residents in schools, seminaries, and institutions are referred to as "inmates." The term, then, was not limited just to prisons as ...
0
votes
1answer
6k views

Why eleven is not called onety one [duplicate]

I want to know why eleven is not called "onety one"? Since eleven comes after ten, why is not "onety one"? and why ten is not called onety ?
0
votes
2answers
90 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
427 views

Make/take a photograph?

In English we say "take a photograph" whereas in some other languages one would say "make a photograph". The French say "take" even though they "make" far more often than we do in English, and ...
1
vote
1answer
587 views

What is the difference, if any, between “divine providence” and “Providence” (with a capital p)?

ODO defines providence as: providence: [mass noun] 1 the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power: they found their trust in divine providence to be a source of comfort ...
2
votes
1answer
938 views

What is the difference in meaning between 'nonchalant' and 'insouciant'?

OED defines them as: nonchalant adjective (of a person or manner) feeling or appearing casually calm and relaxed; not displaying anxiety, interest, or enthusiasm insouciant adjective showing ...
5
votes
1answer
707 views

Why (and for whom) does “unbeknown” become “unbeknownst”

I know there's been an earlier question What is the meaning and usage of the word “beknownst”?. But nothing there satisfies my curiosity about that extra -st at the end. I might have supposed the ...
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?
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Do Americans use the term “garburator” or is there a better equivalent?

Is it obsolete to use the term garburator to refer to a garbage disposal unit in a kitchen? If it is, do we have a better term to replace it with? Also, what is the etymology of this word?
2
votes
1answer
6k views

“Nowadays” versus “now days” [closed]

Recently, I was auto-corrected by a word processor when I typed in "now days" to "nowadays." Why did it do this to me? "Nowadays" looks and sounds silly, incorrect, and made-up to me. Which version ...
2
votes
1answer
603 views

Where did the word “cocamame” come from? [closed]

Where did the word "cocamame" come from, and how did it get its connotation of meaning "idiotic"? Is "cocamame" considered to be more or less severe than "idiotic" on the scale of idiocy? Are there ...
4
votes
2answers
345 views

When is “-less” used, and when is “-free” used?

When is the suffix "-less" used, and when is the suffix "-free" used? My initial assumption was that "-free" is used when the absence of something is good, such as "care-free", and "-less" is used ...
5
votes
1answer
7k views

“Awoken” vs. “awaked”

I understand that the verb awake has two different past participle forms, awoken and awaked. Checking Google Ngram I saw that the former has become more popular than the latter in the last century. I ...
3
votes
3answers
6k views

“Glaringly obvious” vs. “blaringly obvious”

I've heard both phrases in everyday speech, so there's little doubt in my mind that the answer is both. I suspect, though, that one of these phrases is more the original than the other, and the other ...
3
votes
2answers
741 views

Where and when did the negative connotations of “manipulation” appear?

When we think of manipulating objects, we might think of a juggler, magician, chef, etc. When we think of manipulating people, however, it almost always comes with negative connotations. These ...
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
5k views

Why are the “hands” of a clock called “hands”?

Why are the hands of a clock called hands? To me, this makes little sense; they do not resemble hands in any way, and if anything body-part related, they should be arms. So why are they called hands?
8
votes
6answers
3k views

What's the appropriate term for a non-annual commemoration of an event?

The word "anniversary" literally means a day that commemorates and/or celebrates a past event that occurred on the same day of the year as the initial event. The "ann" in "anniversary" comes from the ...
3
votes
1answer
6k views

“Fillet” or “filet”

My significant other asked me today whether or not she should use a fillet or filet of steak in a recipe. What is the difference between fillet and filet, and the history behind these words? Is there ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

Why are you “reading” a particular subject at university?

I've always wondered why the verb "read" is used to basically mean "study" when describing somebody's university course. They might say: I'm reading History at university. And it might be said ...
1
vote
5answers
8k views

Mow the lawn, cut the grass, mow the yard, cut the yard …what is correct?

This weekend I mowed the yard. My neighbor says he cut the grass. Did I cut the grass, or maybe I mowed the lawn, or did I cut the yard? When does one mow, and when does one cut? Is it grass, or ...
-3
votes
1answer
795 views

“At the flicks” - where did this term come from? [closed]

How did the term "flicks" come to relate to "movies" or "cinema"? Where did "flicks" come from?
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is “ouster” the act of ousting and not one who ousts?

The question should be clear enough from the title. Also: What are we supposed to call one who ousts? [If this warrants another question, I will edit this out and open another question.]
11
votes
2answers
2k 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, ...
89
votes
10answers
7k views

Is there a word for a person with only one head?

Reading this article by the fantastic Douglas Adams I came across this interesting quote: ‘[I]nteractivity’ is one of those neologisms that Mr Humphrys likes to dangle between a pair of verbal ...
5
votes
4answers
499 views

Is “observant” exclusive to vision?

The word "observant" means "watchful" or "perceptive": A particularly observant child, he noticed even the slightest changes in the classroom. is the example given by M-W. Specifically ...
4
votes
3answers
10k views

Grandma and Nan, origins and differences?

What are the origins and differences between these two? Same for Granddad/Grandpa? Why was there the need for the two different names?
5
votes
3answers
406 views

Which of these two should be preferred: “sinification” or “sinicization”?

Which of these two options would be considered most elegant / correct? Personally I think Sinicization (or Sinicisation) has a more natural ring to it, but I have seen Sinification used also. Also, ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the origin of the phrase “you've got another thing/think coming”?

What is the origin of the phrase "you've got another thing coming"? And — perhaps more importantly — is it more correct than the alternative "you've got another think coming"?
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there anything wrong with the word “denigrate”?

A few years ago there was a controversy over the word niggardly — a perfectly innocent word that unfortunately sounds like a racial slur. Given that controversy, is it safe to use denigrate, which ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

“Destiny” vs. “Fate”

I'm aware a search will turn up many discussions on the differences or interchangeability of these terms, but it would be good to get some answers here with an emphasis on the etymology of the two ...
2
votes
1answer
244 views

Usage of the word “head”?

Why is the word "head" used in the following context? Daddy he once told me 'son you be hard workin' man' and Momma she once told me 'son you do the best you can' but, then one day I met a man ...
5
votes
4answers
539 views

Why “exclamation mark” but not “exclamation sign”?

I wonder, why ! symbol is called exclamation mark, but = symbol is called equal sign? Is it only tradition or there is something behind?
14
votes
2answers
15k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
580 views

“Pardon me French”

Even though the phrase pardon my French is used much more often, I do constantly run across pardon me French as well. What's the deal with that? Wikipedia does have an entry on Pardon my French, but ...
1
vote
3answers
444 views

What is the origin of “bouillon cubes”?

What is the etymology of bouillon cubes? What other word can I use?
22
votes
7answers
2k views

When did “while” and “whilst” become interchangeable?

I think most folk happily use either "while" or "whilst". I've a vague recollection that at one time "while" indicated the passing of time and "whilst" was essentially the same as "whereas" or ...