Etymology is the history of the origin of words and phrases.

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A weird use of Your self found in a offer letter sample online [closed]

I was looking for a format of offer letters. I found a letter which had the following line in the end. I look forward to an enduring relationship with your self. I have never seen anyone use ...
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1answer
165 views

The origin of “two is company, three is a crowd”

The common saying two is company, three's a crowd is often associated with a romantic context: Prov. A way of asking a third person to leave because you want to be alone with someone. (Often ...
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58 views

What does this expression mean: Don't let him consign me to the rafters

Some once told me about someone else: "please don't let him consign me to the rafters, because he is one of those irrevocable keepsakes"
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104 views

Origin of going “number 1” or “number 2” in the bathroom

I was wondering about the origin of using the terms "number one" and "number two" for going to the bathroom (for those unaware, number one is urinate, number two is defecate, at least in the US). I ...
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29 views

Database Quiesce Origins [closed]

Does anyone know the history of QUIESCE as a database command? Which vendor started this trend? I can't imagine all of the vendors gathering to design a new command and use a word that was not even ...
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238 views

Did British chef Jamie Oliver redefine “pukka” in 1999?

Recently I've been watching cooking programmes: MasterChef Italia (addictive), MasterChef USA (awful), followed swiftly by Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, and then onto Jamie Oliver's acclaimed The ...
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1answer
54 views

History and English demonyms

A friend of mine told me English demonyms, words that identify people from a particular place (Roman, Japanese, Dutch etc.), largely depend upon the historical period in which the term originates. ...
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53 views

What is the origin of the phrase “throw (someone) for a loop”?

I was just saying this today and I realized I have no idea where it comes from. What is the origin of "throw (someone) for a loop"? Some Google searches show that I've been using it correctly and ...
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48 views

Is there a word to describe someone/something that is given a title prematurely?

For example a coal refered to as a diamond when it hasn't been transformed into one.
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Classification: usage in the marine community

I recently heard "classification society" in a conversation - I thought it's an organization that classify or sort things somehow. My friend later explained a classification society is actually a ...
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1answer
97 views

Noun form for “despise”

What would the noun form for despise be? My current two ideas are despite and derision. According to Google, the etymology of despite is Middle English (originally used as a noun meaning ...
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28 views

Is there a word to describe the act of suddenly halting by virtue of feeling shy or intimidated?

I'm looking for a word that can fit into this sentence, "She paused with timid caution and then resumed her lope as if led by the dangling of her small interlaced hands, a magnetic sweeping of the ...
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122 views

What is the origin of mule in test mule?

A test mule is a prototype that is used for performance evaluation. It is a common term for preproduction cars, but is also widely used in non-automotive product development. Where did the term come ...
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57 views

Usage and origin of “prioritize”

Prioritize is a term coined a few decades ago and its usage, according to the AHD, should be considered informal by now: Like many verbs ending in -ize, prioritize has been tainted by ...
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3answers
56 views

What's the origin of the expression “blind alley”? [closed]

It seems a bit unintuitive to me a road/alley could be "blind". What's the origin of such an expression? When did it first come into use?
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“bucking for” .. like Klinger

In the culturally referrent 1970s USA TV show "MASH", about the Korean war, character Corporal Klinger acts "crazy", specifically wearing female clothing, ... because he is bucking for a section 8 ...
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1answer
65 views

Tabbed or Tapped [closed]

I've heard the word "tapped" quite frequently for selecting a person for a job or title but I've recently seen "tabbed" used instead, mainly by sports writers. It just sounds wrong to me considering ...
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265 views

The semantic shift of “mundane”

All the main English dictionaries give the following as the primary meaning of mundane: Dull; ordinary and not interesting or exciting, especially because of happening too regularly, ...
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1answer
55 views

A word to describe someone constantly seeking bewilderment [closed]

So, Jason Silva coined the noun "wonderjunkie" to define this exact thing. However, I'm wondering if there's any adjective in ANY language to describe someone who is in constant search of awe, someone ...
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1answer
101 views

Why is “number” abbreviated as “No.”? [duplicate]

The spelling of number is number, but the abbreviation is No (№). There is no letter o in number, so where does this spelling come from?
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Where does the word 'Simoleon' come from?

Simoleon is another word for money. si·mo·le·on /səˈmōlēən/ I once thought that the word Simoleon came from the popular PC game The Sims. However, recently I heard the word used in ...
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62 views

“The Nuts” in Poker

I read a interesting article regarding origin of the term "The Nuts" in Poker. It means the best possible hand and though a well known term, no-one seems to know its origin. Wikipedia gives the same ...
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26 views

What is the origin of the phrase “inconvenient knowledge” [closed]

Richard McCombs 2013 book, The Paradoxical Rationality of Søren Kierkegaard, contains this passage: "...the suspicion arises that the purpose of this investigation may well be to forget one's ...
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What is the etymology of “french kiss”?

The french kiss is a kiss where the participants' tongues are used to touch the other participant tongue or lips. This is an expression I have heard since I'm little, but I am very curious about the ...
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Why two-dimensional presentation of data called “table”? [duplicate]

I just wonder why a word "table" is also used as two-dimensional presentation of data? It's just a single flat plate, I think "shelf" is more proper representation of such a concept.
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How did 'how' + 'ever' = 'however' ⟹ 'but'?

[ OED: ] Etymology: < how adv. + ever adv. 8e. Qualifying a sentence or clause as a whole: For all that, nevertheless, notwithstanding; yet; = but at the beginning of the sentence. ...
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Knick-knack and bric-a-brac?

There are several interesting words to describe the same idea: Knick-Knack and Bric-a-Brac, both defined as: Small, decorative object(s) of little value. Bric-a-Brac derives from French and is ...
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60 views

Etymology of adding articles to insulting or negative adjectives

Recently saw Deadpool(great movie), and noticed that Negasonic Teenage Warhead responded to something Deadpool said with "That a stupid." But a few months before that movie was released, I heard some ...
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A word that means cast aside and taken back repeatedly

I need a word that defines that which is commonly tossed aside to be grabbed back again, like a notebook. I'm trying to use a word that defines this implicit nature in an object: something that is not ...
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44 views

How does one determine when a comedian is also a humorist?

Wikipedia's list of humorists are categorised as people who write or perform humorous material, but the article also states: A humorist is usually distinct from a stand-up comedian. Woody Allen ...
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269 views

Etymology and Meaning of “geodeter”

While researching the source and use of mathematical formulas to calculate the radius of the earth, I came across this passage: Mitchell also showed that the mean radius of the earth was defined ...
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Why did the word, “shellac” come to mean “to defeat completely” as a U.S. slang?

There were clamorous arguments about appropriateness or inappropriateness of Mr. Donald Trump’s comment, “Hillary Clinton – former first lady, former U.S. senator, former secretary of state, woman got ...
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“Birds and bees” origins

"The birds and the bees" is a euphemistic way of referring to sex. As in, a parent 'telling their son about the birds and the bees' would be giving them "the talk" about sex. Growing up, I got ...
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Who coined the term “baseball diplomacy” (and when)?

President Obama's recent visit to Cuba has prompted some news sources to dust off the term "baseball diplomacy" (one example here). According to a paper I found on the topic, "the ... term ...
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137 views

Origin and earliest recorded use of 'fungo'

In baseball, a fungo bat is, according to Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003), "a long thin bat used for hitting fungoes," and a fungo is either "a fly ball hit esp. for practice ...
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58 views

Where did “Pew! Pew!” come from?

To elaborate, I'm talking about the "sound effect" that people often make when imitating gunfire. Eg. "Pew! Pew! I shot you Billy, you're dead now!" I suppose this developed from the "Bang! ...
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Origin of “moke,” used in the mildly derogatory term “you lil' moke”

Does anyone know the origins of this term? I have only managed to track one reference to it. I heard it from my Granny who was Romani. The Online Etymology Dictionary has this short entry: moke ...
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where did the phrase “I'll get back to you” originate?

Can't find any info on the origin of the idiom or phrase "I'll get back to you on that".
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“light at the end of the tunnel” earliest occurence

I could ask this question on German.SE and probably a number of different indoeuropean SE sites as well, but here's my question: When looking at various online resources the metaphor "to see light at ...
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Hashtag vs hash/tag

Recently, I was listening to a person state "I know X has happened because I wrote the code for it". I wanted to call them out for citation in the vein of pics or it didn't happen. Since I was asking ...
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Party Pooper meaning and origin? [duplicate]

There's a song from the 40s or 50s, I think, and the words are "every party has a pooper, that's why we invited you... party pooper, party pooper... I would like the words, origin and/or meaning.
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60 views

What is the origin of the phrase, “up for it”?

I was just reading something that suggested a very, umm, risqué interpretation of the phrase, "up for it". It made me wonder where and when this phrase actually originated. Does anyone know? Collins ...
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1answer
48 views

Do roman numeral symbols have names?

Symbols generally seem to have their own names. For example, # is referred to as an 'octothorpe'. It seems reasonable that roman numerals, like I, V and X should have their own name, that is ...
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71 views

How does the prefix 'hyper-' explain 'hyperopia' (farsightedness)?

[ Etymonline : ] "very acute vision," 1861, Modern Latin, from hyper- "over, exceedingly, to excess" + Greek ops "eye" (see eye (n.)), Latin with abstract noun ending. [...] To what does ...
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Origin of phrase “mad as a March hare”

According to Phrase Finder the expression "mad as a March hare" dates back to the 16th century and refers to the breeding season of hares. Is there evidence of a different or earlier origin of this ...
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How does the word “enjoin” come to have two opposite meanings?

By the Cambridge Dictionary To ​legally ​forbid or ​stop something by ​order of a ​court Enjoin also ​means to ​order or ​strongly ​encourage someone to do something By the Oxford ...
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Origin and evolution of the term 'amen corner'

Geneva Smitherman, Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner (1994) provides this entry for the term "amen corner": AMEN CORNER 1) In the Traditional Black Church (TBC), ...
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Is the word assassinator legitimate?

I realize assassin is shorter and easier, but is assassinator a legitimate word? Is there any semantic difference between the two? I realize in a historical context assassin can be used to refer to a ...
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138 views

Origin of the word “sketchy” [closed]

The definition of the Informal word "Sketchy" is as follows: Sketchy [skech-ee] Adjective Informal. unreliable or unsafe: That street looks pretty sketchy. ...
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87 views

“Slay” and “Entertain”

I have recently been shown that "Slay" can also mean "Entertain", however this seems rather odd to me. "You slay me, you really do." I have two main questions: In what reasonable context would ...