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

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Words with Gomorrah as etymon

The name of the city of Sodom is the etymon of sodomy. Question: Are there words in English for which Gomorrah is an etymon? According to Online Etymology Dictionary the unit omer is related to ...
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What is etymology of the term “right up the Wazoo”?

I'm sure everyone here has heard the expression "right up the Wazoo", meaning "in large or excessive quantities, to disgusting excess". I was wondering if anyone knew exactly where "the Wazoo" ...
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Does “neath” have any standalone meaning?

Beneath and underneath both indicate similar concepts, and since under- is a free morpheme in many contexts, is neath a bound morpheme or does it derive from a standalone root? I bring this up since ...
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When/by whom was the computing use of “agnostic” to mean independent coined?

Agnostic, as a term to refer to a particular philosophy with respect to spirituality and mysticism, was coined by Thomas Huxley; Wikipedia gives the date as 1869 while Wiktionary says 1870, but the ...
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Why are reveries sometimes called “brown” studies?

Though this idiom is by no means very common, one comes across it now and then. (I just came across it again today, which is why I'm asking this question.) Why is a "brown study" so named?
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Difference between 'crow's feet' and 'worry lines'

I came across the phrases 'crow's feet' and 'worry lines' several times. Please enlighten me about the origin of these two phrases and the difference between them.
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Is there an historical thesaurus?

Is there something like a thesaurus that offers terms more often used in the past? For instance, I beg you would in Shakespearean times be prithee, while chicks during the 1920s would be dolls. ...
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Changes in meaning of “bad” and “bad ass” [duplicate]

How did the definition of bad change over time? When did it change to mean good?
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What is the origin of the “towards a new” used in the titles of some research articles?

Examples: "Towards a new agenda for transforming war economies" "Towards a new agenda for Japanese telecommunications" "Towards a new age in the treatment of multiple myeloma" As I mentioned in ...
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Examples of Ancient Brythonic words in modern English?

So, from a cursory understanding of English history (and I am very happy to say that) I was able to, one might note that the cultural history of those who lived in England might proceed: ...
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Why is money called “rhino”?

I was going to the hole-in-the-wall to get some rhino the other day, when I started to wonder why cash is so-called. I hit the books. Farmer & Henley gives no etymology. Partridge says Origin ...
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What is the origin of the place name “Abbottabad?”

We know that Abbottabad is named after Major James Abbott, an officer in the Indian Army who founded the town. But where does the "...abad" come from? Does it have any relationship to the English word ...
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Why can 'kick back' mean 'get relaxed'?

I came across the following sentence in today's NPR news: In 2011, boomers start turning 65, the age when Americans traditionally stop working and kick back. A dictionary at hand gives the ...
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What's the origin of the idiom “cut corners”?

Cut corners is defined as to do something in the easiest, cheapest or quickest way, often by ignoring rules or leaving something out especially at the expense of high standards. What is the ...
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Why do we say “to be a laughing stock”?

I've come through the expression "to be a laughing stock" to talk about a person who has done something stupid and who people laugh at because of that, and I've started to wonder about it. First of ...
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How did “snookered” become a slang word for “to cheat or to steal”?

In this question we discussed the etymology of the word "snooker" as a noun, based on a game played on a pool table. But dictionary.com references a form of the word, "snookered" as a slang verb that ...
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“Maths” for “Mathematics”; where does the S come from?

So in US English we shorten mathematics to math, and in the UK they say maths. Where does the 'S' come from in the UK version? For some reason I had it in my head that this was just because it's ...
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Origin of “Why is a mouse when it spins?” riddle

Question: "Why is a mouse when it spins?" Answer: "Because the higher the fewer." There are some great responses regarding the provenance of this seemingly-nonsensical riddle at this ...
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Why is it that denuding something means you strip it rather than dress it?

When we denude something we strip it, like the branches of a tree. That seems a bit inverted to me, shouldn't it be to nude-something?
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Etymology of “history” and why the “hi-” prefix?

According to Etymonline, history comes from the same root as story. If they are from the same word, where does hi- come from? Is it just because of the English habit of taking names from other ...
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etymology: drag (clothing)

I've seen conflicting accounts as the etymology of 'drag' (as in: drag queen). the first being acronymical of "Dressed as A Girl". the second as: One suggested etymological root is 19th-century ...
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Where does “otay” come from?

I've heard a few people (all native English speakers) recently use "otay" in place of "okay", both in writing and when speaking. Where does that word come from? For that matter, is it a word at all? ...
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Different uses of 'kaffir' by white South Africans and Muslims

Back in apartheid-era South Africa and, in camera, probably even today, the word 'kaffir' is used in much the same way 'nigger' is used in the western world, ie. as a racist epithet directed at black ...
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Which is more correct: “skewen” or “skewn”?

Which spelling for the past participle of skew is more correct: skewen or skewn? (I recognise it is not the more common spelling of skewed, but regionally and personally skewen is more in use in ...
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I am looking for triplets of synonyms? [closed]

I am looking for triplets of synonyms or words which were close in meaning in the past, but changed their meaning. So, I want a pivot word, such that one word in the triplet used to mean that pivot ...
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Origin of “name happened” form: from “s*** happens” via “magic happens”?

There’s a form in current English Then <X> happened or <X> happened, where you transition the name of a thing (a person, a fictitious character, or object), to mean the dramatic ...
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Why does “fishwife” mean “mean woman”?

I have looked at the meaning of fishwife at Collins Language (I can't link directly to the definition) and it tells me: fishwife n (pl -wives) a coarse or bad-tempered woman with a loud voice ...
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How to say “Castile” [closed]

I am from Castile, NY. As far as I can tell it is the only town in the USA with that name. We say the name like /kae-STAI-ol/, but I am aware that many people pronounce it like /kae-STEEL/. The name ...
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When and why did “patronize” gain the meaning of condescension versus being a customer?

To patronize an establishment is generally a good thing, but to be patronized is bad. I assume that the former meaning was the original, but when did the other come into being and why?
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Is there a word for someone being both 'Spectator and Participant'?

I was wondering if there is a single word for someone being 'both spectator and participant', as in "In the grand scheme of universe I am just another identity who is both a spectator and a ...
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“Never say die?”

What's the deal with this idiom? I know what it means, but cannot wrap my head around its grammar structure. The sentence structure of "Never say die" looks like that of "Never admit defeat" ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “do a line with someone”?

What is the origin of the phrase "do a line with someone", meaning "have a regular romantic or sexual romantic relationship with someone"? I learnt this phrase from an Irish colleague of mine the ...
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What is the opposite of an Epiphany?

I think of an Epiphany as a "Eureka Moment" as in a goldminer crying out, "Eureka!" upon discovering a vein of gold (I'm a native Californian (and former resident of Eureka), so that example comes ...
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Origin of different past tenses for verbs with the same endings?

Why do we have a situation where the past of "to blow" is "blew", but of "to glow" is "glowed"? And don't say "flew" if you mean "it flowed". The poem Lovers, by Phoebe Cary has many examples of ...
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Why do we refer to car manufacturer as 'Make'?

When I first encountered it years ago, I was pretty sure it must be a mistake. Although I got used to it, it still does not feel right. What is the reason for that? Is it something specific to the ...
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What is the meaning of the expression “A one paper kid” or “One paper kid”

This is a country song title by the late Walter Martin Cowart and has been covered by several artists. Is this a local expression or slang term perhaps used in the American southern states?
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Why is “bream” pronounced as “brim”?

Every time I catch an Acanthopagrus australis, commonly known as a yellowfin bream, I wonder why its name is prounced "brim", (as in the same way you would pronounce the brim of a hat). ...
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What is the etymology of “todger”?

What is the etymology of "todger"? My Concise OED is rather vague: ORIGIN 1950s: of unknown origin (also tadger) "Tadger" is just listed as a "Variant spelling of TODGER" Other references ...
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Does syllabus derive from Greek or Latin?

I'm looking for some hard evidence to determine whether syllabus is a word that derives from Greek or Latin. This came about from a discussion asking whether the plural of syllabus is "syllabuses" or ...
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Where did we get “buster” as in “Look here, buster”?

Americans, at least, have for some time used buster in speech or dialogue as a generic form of address. It has a range of tonalities, from light to affectionate to grimly confrontational. Listen, ...
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Last names that are English words with an extra 'e'

I noticed that there are a lot of last names that have an 'e' at the end. The pronunciation usually isn't changed from that of the base word. Poole Steele Browne Clarke Why do English words not ...
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Why do we say “in” a movie but “on” a TV show?

When referring to a television program, my experience tells me that it is proper to use “on” whether I’m referring to an actor on the show or events on the show or anything. Did you see Matt ...
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Where does the use of “why” as an interjection come from?

Examples: Why, I'd love to. Why, of course! I get the concept of starting a sentence with a word not completely related to the overall response, but this one seems to be a particularly ...
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What word can I use instead of “tomorrow” that is not connected with the idea of the rising sun?

I'm working on a novel while trying to take into account the historical context surrounding it. It begins in 1140 AD, so the characters would use Old English, Latin, Old French, and other similar ...
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What is the origin, and correct spelling of, “shtook”?

I quite frequently use a word that sounds like "shtook", to mean, trouble with the law or other authorities, as in, "You'll be in dead shtook if you do that" or "you'll be in real shtook if you don't ...
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What's the difference between “Collaborate” and “Cooperate”?

Both of these words seem to mean much the same thing: working together to achieve some goal. I can instinctively feel a difference between them, but I can't easily put it into words. Can you help me? ...
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Origin of the word “bootleg”

What is the origin of the word “bootleg”?
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Cute as a button

Since buttons aren't particularly cute (IMO), where did this common phrase come from? I know it's old; I've seen it in 19th century literature.
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When did the expression “Poor man's <noun>” originate?

Just wondering where the expression comes from and who is considered responsible for coining it.
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