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

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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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6answers
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Where does the term “heads or tails” come from?

I recently obtained a Silver Angel collectable coin, where the back side bears an image of an angel fighting a dragon: I sort of realized, as I was looking at it, that for probably the first time in ...
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First use of the slang term “Scrub”?

The slang term "scrub", when referred to a person, can mean several things. It seems like the original usage as an adjective is someone who is not good at something - video games, sports, etc. I am ...
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What is the origin and meaning of conniption dido

My mother who was born in 1917 used this term just as someone might use conniption fit. When I asked her where the word dido came from she said that her grandmother used it. I can't find anything that ...
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How did the Old French 'rejoindre' mean a retort (only in English)?

I know of the 2 different homonyms behind 'rejoin'; I ask only about the one that means 'retort'. rejoin (2) = {reporting verb} Say something in reply, typically in a quick or critical manner ...
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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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(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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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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Origin of the name “paw-paw” [closed]

I've always known this fruit as papaya. It was only in recent times that I started hearing "paw-paw" used instead of "papaya". I also looked up the dictionary, but no relevant word came up. Where did ...
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Why does someone “pull my leg”?

Someone was pulling my leg the other day (meaning, attempting some mild or humourous deception), and I wondered about the etymology of this phrase. Does anyone know when it originated, and why it ...
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1answer
106 views

Adjective form of the verb despise?

Saw the title of the movie where minions come out - "Despicable Me" - I was curious, as despicable has the suffix -able, what would be its verb form? Then, I thought, is it de-spice? Which made me ...
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1answer
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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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171 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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0answers
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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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2answers
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“Sounds like a plan (, Stan!)”

"Sounds like a plan (, Stan!)" (idiom, used to agree to a suggestion that you think is good: OxfordLearnersDictionariesOnline) It seems to be of relatively recent origin, if there's really a sound ...
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4answers
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Where does the term “Grand Slam” come from?

The four majors in tennis are known as Grand Slams. The "Grand" part clearly defines the prestige/size of the event but where do we get the word "Slam" from in this context? Basic research shows ...
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3answers
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What is the origin of “have a gander”? (When meaning “look”.)

The phrase "have a gander" meaning "have a look" is common in the UK. (Also can be "have a goosey gander" or just "have a goosey".) What is the origin/meaning of this phrase? I always assumed that it ...
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2answers
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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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1answer
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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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3answers
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How did 'estate' evolve to mean 'area of land or property'?

The following are definitions of the word 'estate': estate {noun} = 1. An area or amount of land or property, in particular = 3. {archaic or literary} A particular state, period, or condition ...
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3answers
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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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3answers
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what are the origins of hi, hey, hello?

What are the origins of hi, hey and hello? Are they related?
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1answer
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What is to be made of “e” ending so many Middle English words?

I was recently reading about the life of Robert I (the Bruce) of Scotland. On his deathbed, since he had been unable to go on crusade to the Holy Land as he had once pledged to do, he directed that ...
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2answers
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Why does “impregnable” mean *cannot be impregnated*?

Well not exactly, but according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, impregnable means: ADJECTIVE: 1. Impossible to capture or enter by force: an impregnable fortress. ...
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Why is a meal's main course referred to as “entree”?

How did it come to be that the main course of a meal is referred to as "entree", where that french word has always meant "appetizer" ? Did someone translate it incorrectly it ages ago, and we haven't ...
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2answers
208 views

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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When was the form “is become” first used?

In the famous “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah, a line goes: The kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord. I’ve noticed similar forms in many biblical texts and ...
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1answer
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Origin of “sapiosexual”

The word sapiosexual describes one who is attracted to intelligence. And while it's formed from Latin roots (sapiens + sexual), it appears to be a very new word. Google Ngram has no record of the ...
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What is the meaning and etymology of the adjective “jammy”, of Yorkshire English?

What is the etymology of the adjective jammy? As in, Thou art a jammy bugger! I confess I've never seen the word before. When I looked it up, I found confusing etymologies: one source says it ...
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7answers
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Why is a woman's purse called a “pocketbook”?

It's not a book, and it doesn't fit in anyone's pocket. Why does my brother-in-law insist on calling his wife's purse a pocketbook? I'm interested in the etymology, and in the chronological and ...
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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 ...
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How did “lobster” mean two different species?

This live crustacean is called astice in Italian. The one on the right is aragosta. They look very different from one another. The Italian dictionary describes the astice as having a deep (intense) ...
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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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2answers
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Is the word “Ray” related to the Egyptian “Ra”

My Communications professor was quite adamant that the word "radio" could be traced back to the Egyptian word for sun, "ra". Radio comes from the Latin "radius" and I could find no sources that ...
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2answers
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“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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OED Appeals: Origin of “bimble”

The OED has made a public appeal for help in tracing the history of some English words, including: bimble verb earlier than 1983 The word bimble, meaning ‘to move at a leisurely pace’, ...
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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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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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What's the origin of the idiom “bust one's chops”?

The idiom is defined on Dictionary.com as: bust one's chops, Slang. to exert oneself. bust someone's chops, Slang. to annoy with nagging or criticism. Looking it up on Google, I couldn't ...
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1answer
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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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Etymology/Origin behind using “bitching” in a positive sense

Etymonline.com mentions this: bitch (v.) "to complain," attested at least from 1930, perhaps from the sense in bitchy, perhaps influenced by the verb meaning "to bungle, spoil," which is ...
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Origin of “kettle of fish”

What is the origin of the phrase "kettle of fish"? e.g. It's was a good film. But the sequel is a different kettle of fish. It seems to simply mean "thing", but in a fun and witty way. But I ...
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1answer
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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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1answer
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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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Where did “snuck” come from?

Ages ago, I remember typing snuck into a word processor and being surprised to see it flagged as not a word. My current computer seems to be okay with it and my local dictionary has this in its ...
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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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1answer
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How did 'up to' evolve to mean 'regardless of', in maths?

Even the OED seems not to have featured it. I couldn't find an explanation on Etymonline. [Wikipedia:] If X is some property or process, the phrase "up to X" means "disregarding a possible ...
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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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1answer
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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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“Sport” vs “Sports” Origin

I was recently reading this article on the use of "math" vs. "maths" as a collective noun (Americans use the former, Brits the latter). However, the trend seen in "math/maths" is reversed in ...