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

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Is there a term or word for someone who fears homophobes?

Can you think of a single term or word for someone who dislikes or fears a homophobic person?
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75 views

How did 'trust' evolve to mean 'businesses organized to reduce competition'?

trust (n.) [=] ... Meaning "businesses organized to reduce competition" is recorded from 1877. ... Most of the definitions for this noun connote positivity, but not the commerce one above. So ...
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What does 'off' mean in 'to offset'?

offset (n.) = 1550s, "act of setting off" (on a journey, etc.), from off + set (adj.). Meaning "something 'set OFF' against something else, a counterbalance" is from 1769; the verb in this ...
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Suitability of “abstract” for describing an “alternative message to a long text”

I would like to know whether using the word abstract is suitable for describing a message going along with a longer text. I know in academia it is used for something very specific, but I'm more ...
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74 views

What is the origin of the use of “Lorem ipsum …” as a placeholder in web design? [closed]

The Wikipedia article pretty much sums up the meaning of this gobbledegook, a mangling of 1st century Latin, but fails to explain WHY variations on this particular filler are used as placeholders on ...
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Thrown by 'a broncho.' Or is it a 'bronco'? Or a 'bronc'?

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, first edition (1908) has this entry for broncho: Broncho (brŏn´kō), n. {Sp. bronco rough, wild.} A native or a Mexican horse of small size. {Western U.S.} Four ...
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The Evolution of Trolls [closed]

Does anyone know how Trolls, which were a type of fisherman, became a term for a type of monster? I may have mis-tagged this as etymology
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172 views

Idiom: Bear with me

The sense of this formula is clear. It means be patient with me, be tolerant/lenient. Don't be too harsh on me. But how can a verb as "to bear" develop the meaning of to be tolerant? "To bear" is an ...
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156 views

Why is an application called an application?

Sometimes it's nice to know where the words we use everyday as programmers actually come from. For example, I can explain how a computer screen relates to a flat material onto which diaporamas used to ...
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etymology of “ie” versus “ei” words

I have noticed that certain, seemingly random, words tend to sometimes have "ie" or "ei" in them. For example, the word "Foreign" has an "e", followed by an "i", but the word "friend", has an "i", ...
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Why is it called a 'feminine rhyme'?

While researching for the rhyme scheme used by hip-hop artists (Hail Eminem!), I found this wikipedia article: A feminine rhyme is a rhyme that matches two or more syllables, usually at the end of ...
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“Take something as read” - very old meaning of read?

Take (something) as read is described as an idiomatic expression. But I am wondering if read has its original meaning of advise, interpret here? Is there any etymological evidence for how this ...
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135 views

“Impregnable” and “impregnate” seemingly opposites? [duplicate]

Perhaps this is a weird question, but I couldn't find an answer via etymologies. When something is "impregnable" it means "cannot be broken into." But, when something is "impregnated", other than ...
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Is 'racist' a made up word by Trotsky in 1927 [migrated]

According to what it is written in the image below, 'racist is a made up word by Leon Trotsky in 1927'. I searched in Online Etymology Dictionary and found that racist 1932 as a noun, 1938 as an ...
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1answer
67 views

What is the origin and meaning of “Save some for Jehoshaphat”?

Back in the late 1950's, during Sunday dinner (here in Tennessee), my mom would often exclaim "save some for Jehoshaphat". What is the origin and meaning of that phrase?
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Origin of the phrase “because of course it does”

I've been hearing "because of course it/he/she does" a lot recently. I'm assuming this is internet-speak, but maybe it's older? Grateful to anyone who can help pinpoint its origin.
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“I'm Alan Freed, and this is Rock & Roll!” Origin of the term?

Cleveland radio station WJW personality Alan Freed didn't coin the term, Rock & Roll. He popularized it, and gave it the present-day meaning. Originally, rock and roll was a seaman's term. When a ...
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Trix from Latin

Is the Latin term Trix for a female person related to the term turning tricks as related to prostitution? I have reviewed the origination of turning tricks as noted on this site. However, it did not ...
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What is the etymology of “You don't look too clever”

In BrEng, at least in the North, there is an idiom: "You don't look too clever." which means "You're looking quite ill." Does anybody know the etymology of this idiom please?
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How did 'forthwith' evolve to mean 'immediately'?

[OED:] Etymology: For forth with (preposition), = earlier forth mid, along with, see forth adv. 2c. The adverb forthwith originates from this phrase, the preposition being used absol. or with ...
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How did 'thereupon' evolve to mean 'upon there' temporally (not locatively)? [closed]

[ODO:] = {adverb} {formal} Immediately or shortly after that there (adverb) + upon (preposition), how did they combine to mean the above ? When I first saw this adverb, I guessed it to mean ...
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Etymology of 'to distrain'

[ODO:] {verb} [with object] {Law} 1. Seize (someone’s property) in order to obtain payment of rent or other money owed [Etymology:] Middle English: from Old French destreindre, from Latin ...
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What is a -thrope or a -thropy? Where does that suffix come from?

Words like "misanthrope," "philanthropy," and "lycanthrope" have a common ending which I can't find the origin of. I found some other, rarer words using this suffix--- apanthropy, aphilanthropy, ...
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Origin of the word “facebook”?

Facebook just sounds like a social media site, but the word facebook originates from something. I looked online and found nothing relevant to the origin of the word. Would you please shed a light? ...
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Is there a Germanic word for the Latin “number”?

Really just a curiosity, but I've been unable to find such a thing on my own. I figure something as simple as a word for the thing you count with should exist in any language with counting. It's ...
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What is the etymology of the phrase “Lovely weather for ducks”?

There's a lovely, odd little song by Lemon Jelly called Nice Weather For Ducks, which references the idiom Lovely Weather for Ducks. Despite conventional thinking, rain is not lovely weather for ...
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How did 'acute' evolve to mean 'quick'?

[1.] [OED:] acute, adj.    [=]    A. adj. 1. Med. a. Of a disease, symptom, etc.: coming quickly to a crisis or conclusion; of rapid onset and short duration; of recent or sudden onset; ...
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What is the etymology of the word “bae”?

What is the etymology of the word "bae" as a term of endearment?
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Does the English verb 'project' correctly represent the Latin 'columna'?

kel-2 [=] To be prominent; hill. [...] 3. c. extended and suffixed form * kolumnā‑ . colonel, colonnade, colonnette, column, from Latin columna, a projecting object, column. [M-W:] ...
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How is 'notwithstanding' governed by some preposition that is the 'subject of the verb'?

Source: p 993 of the book itself (but p 497 of the online viewer with the scroller at the bottom), An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, volume 2 (1921), by Ernest Weekley: ...
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Why is 'X notwithstanding' more correct than 'notwithstanding X'?

Source: p 575, Garner's Modern American Usage (3 ed; 2009), by Bryan Garner: notwithstanding is a FORMAL WORD, used in the sense "despite," "in spite of," or "although." E.g., "Notwithstanding an ...
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White Noise: Why White?

I'm always surprised when I hear the term white noise. White noise itself sounds a little more "evil" than anything else, I would almost expect it to be called black noise. Why is white noise ...
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What is 'less' about 'unless'?

[Etymonline:] unless (conj.) [:] mid-15c., earlier onlesse, from on lesse (than) "on a less condition" (than); see less. The first syllable originally on, but the negative connotation and the ...
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Has “Extraordinary” Ever Been Spelled with an A-O Ligature?

For example, instead of spelling it as extraordinary, you would write it as extrꜵrdinary. This also applies to its derivations, such as instead of extraordinaire, you would write extrꜵrdinaire. I'm ...
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How would you invent the word for 'fear of standing next to beds'?

It is known that there is a proper word for almost any phobia you can think of. What is the etymology of such? And how would one construct the word for the phobia of standing next to beds; because of ...
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Hi! I was wondering: Nostalgia ? Wanderlust?

How did these foreign terms for emotions get into English? They all describe a feeling of something imagined. Some examples: Nostalgia Wanderlust Fernweh This group of words amazes me and makes me ...
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(Metaphorical) meaning of “lowercase”

I am not sure about the following use of the term lowercase: Their approach is decidedly lowercase […] Through the lowercase abstinence and erasion lies an unfathomed vastness […] Context: ...
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To which 'court' does 'courtyard' refer?

courtyard (n.) 1550s, from court (n.) + yard (n.1). Strangely, the OED forgoes the etymology. Wikipedia also is ambiguous. So please disambiguate the meaning of court? I know that court ...
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Let Alone ≈ Much Less ≈ Still Less : How do the 2 words in each combine to mean 'not to mention'? [duplicate]

For brevity, I symbolise (imperfect) synonymity with ≈ :  X ≈ Y  means  X and Y are synonyms. From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/let+alone: let alone ≈ not to mention From Merriam Webster: let ...
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How can a verb like “jag” symbolise sudden movement or unevenness?

[ODO:] jag Origin [=] Late Middle English (in the sense 'stab, pierce'): perhaps symbolic of sudden movement or unevenness (compare with jam1 and rag1). How can any verb, let alone jag, ...
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“Bucket and chuck it” origin

Used in this sentence (by a friend): Well, if it doesn't work, just bucket and chuck it.
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Why does the meaning of a root sound different than the root? [closed]

I am currently constructing a language for my fantasy world. I am utilizing roots, prefixes, suffixes - all that fun stuff. I've noticed something that I find rather strange though. Nearly every word ...
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218 views

The origin of Shelock Holmes' “deerstalker”

A deerstalker is a soft cap, most commonly associated with Sherlock Holmes. Neither Oxford nor Etymonline lists the word's origin. Does anyone know when and how this word originated?
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What is 'burning or baiting' about the verb 'stake'?

stake (v.2)    "to risk, wager," 1520s, perhaps from notion of "post on which a gambling wager was placed" (see stake (n.2)), though Weekley suggests "there is a tinge of the burning or ...
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Origin of the phrase “There's a fine line between pleasure and pain” [duplicate]

What is the origin (or original) of the phrase "There's a fine line between pleasure and pain"?
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What's the origin/etymology of the phrase “regular old”? Does it have a clearly defined meaning?

It seems to me that the adjective phrase "regular old" seems to have a few distinct usages, but a confusing conversation and some fruitless searches as to a specific definition have me coming to ...
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Usage of touch the wood? [duplicate]

I've started using English language about 4 years ago after I moved to England. I came across this practice a few times: when people speak about their health or similar things they say this and touch ...
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How does the gerund 'bear, carry'?

[ Etymonline: ] 1510s, from Latin gerundum "to be carried out," gerundive of gerere "to bear, carry" (see gest). In Latin, a verbal noun used for all cases of the infinitive but the nominative; ...
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Etymology of 'inexorable' : What does 'out' + 'pray' mean?

inexorable (adj.)    1550s, from Middle French inexorable and directly from Latin inexorabilis "that cannot be moved by entreaty," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + exorabilis "able ...
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Who needs a haircut?

Haircut is a relatively recent term, considering that Romans began to cut the hair about A.U.C. 454, when Ticinius Maenas introduced Barbers from Sicily: (Etymonline) also hair-cut, 1887, "act ...