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

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How does 'be' + 'of' combine to mean 'possess; give rise to'?

I already understand and so ask NOT about the definition, below which I want to burrow. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. 1. Which ODO definition corresponds? What does of mean here? to be of = ...
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Is “hell of a” positive or negative?

I find it a very curious thing that the phrase "hell of a" seems to be suitable to describe both good and bad things. e.g. It was a great party. We had a hell of a time. vs We sold the ...
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What is the term for the origin of a cliche?

From wiki sources : A cliche is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, even to the point of being ...
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Morphology of mobster, gangster, webster, hipster

Where the letter "t" came from in these words? Is it part of the suffix -ter- or a separate suffix? Where the "s" comes from? Can other words on -ster be formed this way?
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“Intelligence” (in the espionage sense) - first use?

Does anyone have an idea of when the word "intelligence" was first used, in the context of espionage? Was it used in this context in (for instance) the 18th century?
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Etymology of 'Pizzazz'

A question from December 2011 asked What is the social context of "pizzazz"?. I'm curious about the word's etymology. I checked some reference books, but they showed very little agreement ...
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How did 'sequester' evolve from 'follow' to 'remove'?

[ Etymonline for 'sequester (v.)' ] late 14c., "remove" something, "quarantine, isolate" (someone); "excommunicate;" also intransitive, "separate oneself from," from Old French sequestrer (14c.), ...
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How did 'deign' upend its meaning from 'worthy' to 'condescend'?

I was researching the etymology of disdain which rechannels to the following: [ Etymonline for 'deign (v.)' ] c. 1300, from Old French deignier (Modern French daigner), from Latin dignari "to deem ...
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Etymology behind “tim-” words involving honor and “tim-” words involving fear?

Words like timocracy (a form of government based on ambition for honor) and Timothy (honor to God) come from time, which means "honor" or "worth." According to Etymonline, timid (easily frightened) ...
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Secret origin of the dude = butthair meme

My daughter came back from Catechism today with an interesting spiritual fact. Apparently she was told that a dude is another name for butt hair. It's entry 17 or so on urban dictionary, dated 2006 ...
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Etymology of “crush”?

How did crush come to be used to mean "an intense but usually short-lived infatuation"?
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Fraught, as in Overwrought Anxiety?

How did "fraught" come to include the second definition? What is the connection? FRAUGHT adjective: 1. (of a situation or course of action) filled with or destined to result in (something ...
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The Road Warrior

In modern business speak one increasingly sees the phrase "Road Warrior" used to refer to people who spend a lot of their time travelling for work. Looking at it independentaly this seems a bit of an ...
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Where did the phrase “chock-full” come from?

I hear this phase spoken and rarely written, but Merriam-Webster has a definition their website. The origin states "Middle English chokkefull, probably from choken to choke + full." Does anyone have ...
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How did “stuck-up” get to mean “snob”?

I was inclined to believe that the expression "stuck-up", meaning staying aloof from others because one thinks one is superior, had its origins with somebody's nose stuck (up) in the air and yet, ...
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How does “spanner” come to mean “a wrench”?

"Wrenching" refers to an injury in which some muscle is forcibly twisted. A wrench is a tool that applies a twisting force to something, so that seems consistent. "To span" means to bridge a gap. ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “got the hump”? [closed]

depressed, in a bad mood but I am wondering did it come from camels?
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What's the origin of the demonym Thai?

I was curious why we called people from Thailand "Thai" and those from Taiwan "Taiwanese." The latter by itself is a bit less surprising, though. See also: Are there any rules governing what we call ...
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What are the origins for the phrases “Knock it off” and “Cut it out”?

When taken literally, the colloquial phrases "Knock it off" and "Cut it out" do not seem to mean "Stop what you're doing." How did these two phrases get their current meanings?
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On professional bias

The well-known expression professional bias appears to date back to the very first years when professions started to exist: "Professional bias" designates a mental conditioning brought ...
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Is there a difference between a TV and a TV set?

Why can a one-piece TV be called a "TV set" if a TV is a single item?
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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 ...
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“Sober as a judge” vs. “Drunk as a lord”. Why judge? Why lord?

Sober as a judge is a simile that is used for someone completely sober. Drunk as a lord is a simile that is used for someone completely drunk. Why is judge equated with sobriety and lord with ...
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How does 'to deport' mean 'to conduct oneself' ?

2. deport {verb} {archaic} = Conduct oneself in a specified manner: deport (v.1): late 15c., "to behave," from Old French deporter "behave, deport (oneself)" (12c.), also with a wide range of ...
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What does 'Chabo' usually mean [closed]

Does Chabo mean rooster? I learn it from the image search results on google. I want to know the origin or definition of Chabo, especially the reason why it means rooster? This word comes from here ...
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What is the origin of the term “screw” in the case of a prison guard?

The term screw can refer to a prison guard. An example of this is seen in the folk song The Catalpa: So come all you screw warders and jailers Remember Perth regatta day Take care of the rest of your ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “egg in your beer”?

The phrase "egg in your beer" refers to wanting a bonus or something for nothing. Its common usage is: "What do you want? An egg in your beer?" However, this does not seem to make much sense, as an ...
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Where does “Don't bogart that joint” come from? [closed]

I've looked on Google for several minutes, but I can't find a plausible reason, nor any immediately useful things to follow up. (I understand "Don't bogart that joint" to mean "Pass the [cannabis] ...
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“I'm on the brew”

A conversation between two Scots: — What do you do for a living? — I'm on the brew. Assuming that I have the phrase right, what exactly does "on the brew" mean here? Based on the context, I ...
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“Do you live around here or ride a bicycle?”

My grandpa used to ask "Do you live around here or ride a bicycle?" fairly often, finding it hilarious (him and only him). While it is quite an awkward, malformed piece of logic, what is its source? ...
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Etymology of a “pegged CPU”

There's a slightly obscure, slang meaning in tech circles of the word "pegged" as it relates to a computer's CPU. When it is fully utilised for a duration (at least several seconds), you can say that ...
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What does “and how” really mean? [closed]

I understand that the phrase and how is an informal way of expressing strong agreement, but how would one really parse the phrase? Would the etymology of it provide any clues? For example: "This ...
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Origin and meaning of “damn straight”

The phrase "damn straight" is now used as a way to emphatically agree with a statement, but where does it come from, and what did it mean originally?
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Why is the term “double-edged sword” used for something that can be favorable and unfavorable?

When something can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences, the term double-edged sword is often used to describe it. Why? Does a double-edged sword have unfavorable consequences? Are ...
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How did 'anticipate' evolve to mean 'forestall'?

OALD: 4. anticipate somebody (doing something) (formal) = to do something before it can be done by somebody else Etymonline: anticipate (v.) = 1530s, "to cause to happen sooner," a ...
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How did 'purport' evolve to connote falsity?

purport {verb} = [with infinitive] Appear to be or do something, especially falsely: Etymonline's entry for the verb just redirects to that for the noun: purport (n.) ... back-formation ...
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what is the best book about etymology? [closed]

I saw a lot of books for learning etymology, but I can not have the best usage of it. Who can introduce the very good book about this subject?
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“Salty” in place of expensive?

Someone I know was talking about 600gb hard drives and his description of the cost was "salty". When I asked him to clarify, he told me it meant that they were expensive. I have searched and can't ...
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How does 'to partake of' mean 'be characterized by'?

Please help me dig deeper than the definition below, which I already understand and so ask NOT about. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. But what are some right ways of interpreting the etymology, to ...
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What do the particles mean in 'believe of, on, to something'?

Foreword: The use of 'believe of' in this comment, motivated this question. 2. intr. With in, †of (rare), †on, †to (rare). To have confidence in the truth or accuracy of (a statement, doctrine, ...
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Where does the phrase “crazy like a fox” originate? [closed]

If you say that someone is "crazy like a fox", it means that their behavior appears to be insane or nonsensical at first glance, but there's actually something very clever and subtle to it that's ...
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Why do we say “to fall in love”? Is it something unwished for?

I was exploring the phrases for "to fall in love" in some other languages. And I came out with the result, only English describes the state of starting to feel love for someone as "falling". I wonder ...
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Cognates or coincidences?

Recently, I read an article about so-called toxic behavior on reddit, posted on a website named "idibon". I thought idi- was a reference to idiotic, e.g. the website Wikipediocracy, which is ...
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Origin of New Jersey idiom “down the shore”

As a native Midwesterner, I was very puzzled to hear my wife (who is from northern New Jersey) use that idiom. I understand what it means, and as far as I can remember I understood what it meant from ...
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Vice and Vice President [closed]

The word "vice" is usually used in a negative sense in the meaning of "immoral or wicked behavior". On the other hand we have a commonly used term "vice president" as the second person in a presidency ...
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How did 'bump' humorously evolve into 'bumptious'?

[OED:] Etymology: A humorous formation, suggested perhaps by bump n.1 or bump v.1, and words in -tious, like fractious. (Not in Craig 1847, nor in any earlier Dict.) bumptious {adjective} = ...
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'plight' (as 'predicament'): How did 'to fold' evolve to mean a predicament?

Of the two dichotomous noun homonyms 'pledge', below I ask only about that derived from Latin. For the homonym derived from Proto-Germanic , please see this. [Etymonline for 'plight (n.1)' ] ...
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Origin of 'fairer sex'

I've seen the term 'the fairer sex' being used in a number of areas to refer to females. How did they get that title? What does 'fairer' refer to in this case?
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Why do we refer to the floors of buildings as stories?

Why do we refer to the floors of buildings as stories? Example: I live up on the sixth story.
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How did the term “esquire” come to be used for lawyers?

Esquire, as I understand it means "mister." But in modern usage it is an abbreviated American appendage to names that indicates one is a lawyer, and it is used for men and women. How did that happen? ...