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

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Are you googlable?

The search engine Google was launched in 1998 and on that same year, the term googling was first used. The verb “to google” earned its official status in the Oxford English Dictionary on June 15, ...
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When is the word *mail* used in the sense of rent or payment?

When looking up the etymology of the word mail for the clearly distinct senses of: things you use the postal service for; and armour (e.g. chain mail), I came across a third sense of the word, ...
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Meaning of “win-the-cycle crap”

In the CBS TV political drama Madam Secretary, Season 1 Episode 17, Secretary of State comes back from Iran after successfully stopping a coup secretly plotted by some Iranian anti-government ...
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“Para” and “Paras” vs “Paragraph” and “Paragraphs”

I find people using "para" for "paragraph" and "paras" for "paragraphs", even in formal English. See the example sentence: In para 2 of the plaint, the plaintiff has stated that he is entitled ...
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314 views

Since when has “wallflower” been used to refer to men?

Dictionaries these days define wallflower as a shy or unpopular person not dancing at a party (see Merriam-Webster for instance). Etymonline says the first recorded use of the word in this sense was ...
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Origin of podcast

A podcast is typically a digital audio file distributed on the internet, to be downloaded for later listening on a computer or portable audio player. What the origin of this word? The Online ...
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Origin of “I fart in your general direction”

I grew up knowing the insulting phrase "I fart in your general direction", and recently saw it used by John Cleese in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (apparently its most famous usage): ...
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“Schlong” and its etymology

Donald Trump used a vulgarity to describe Hillary Clinton's loss to President Obama in 2008 Democratic presidential nomination as follows: Even a race to Obama, she was gonna beat Obama. I don't ...
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Origin of “half X, fully Y”

A friend made an off-hand remark to a girl recently, describing himself as: half Dutch, fully dangerous due to his Dutch heritage. I assumed it was just a remark he made off the top of his head ...
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Why is Saturday “day of Saturn”?

Apparently all other days of the week were named after Germanic words and deities. So why was Saturday, which was named after the Roman god Saturnus, the only exception? Why wasn't it called "day of ...
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Why is “text” in “textbook”?

Why is textbook not just book? While I suppose it could contrast with a picture book, a book for academic purposes containing nothing but pictures would still be called a textbook. It doesn't appear ...
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How to spell and find razzu/razoo and its origin

My Mom used to say "wild razoo" when she was talking about someone attempting or trying something in a frantic way. She was of Irish descent. I don't know how to spell it. I sure would like to know ...
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Single-word or idiom request to mean “overshoot the runway” and its etymology

In yesterday's Outfront anchored by Erin Burnett, she and one of the panelists exchanged the below conversation: Burnett: So, Van, Clinton was wrong technically in terms of there's been no ...
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261 views

What is the origin of the phrase “great minds think alike”?

Upon using the phrase "great minds think alike" in chat today, I was informed that it is really a shortened version of "Great minds think alike, small minds rarely differ" or "Great minds think alike, ...
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79 views

A word for people who resist change [closed]

I'm new to the site. So, be nice. I googled the question earlier because I forgot the word I was going to use to decribe a friend of mine. The question and (lack of) answers were from 2013. I found ...
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761 views

What is the origin of “ex”?

Ex-wife, ex-boyfriend. Does ex have a full form? Google dictionary has this information about the origin of ex: But what is the origin of the usage as a prefix in the words like ex-wife, ...
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What's the origin of the word 'noise' in photography?

I know we can also use the word grain which conveys the same meaning and which makes more sense in my opinion. But I noticed photographers have a preference for the term 'noise'. What's got the word ...
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Etymology of *snap, crackle, pop* for higher derivatives of position? [duplicate]

The fourth, fifth, and sixth derivatives of position are known as snap (or, perhaps more commonly, jounce), crackle, and pop. The latter two of these are probably infrequently used even in a serious ...
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Evolution of the words

Some years ago, swag, or swagger would mean to boast. Now it has a totally different approach- awesomeness, "coolness", or just slang for greatness. Same with graze- going from eating grass ...
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When and by whom was the term “migration” first applied to computers?

To migrate in computing means: (verb Int or Tr) to ​begin using a new ​computer ​system, or to ​move ​information from one ​type of ​system to another. (Cambridge Dictionary) According ...
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“Secretariat” vs. “Directorate”

The office establishment where the Secretaries (say, of a Government) sit is called: "Secretariat" (without "e" in the end of the word). Then, why does the office establishment where a Director ...
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When did “Happy ending” get used as a euphemism?

Once upon a time, happy ending was only used in the context of fiction. But since then, it's been used as a euphemism for sexual release at the end of an erotic massage. When did "Happy ending" get ...
6
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143 views

Topless vs. Shirtless

If somebody asks me to describe the below photo, I would definitely say, "It is a picture of shirtless Putin on a horseback". The adjective topless is defined by Oxford Online Dictionary: (Of a ...
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Source of the expression that sounds like “Jee-hossey-fat”

A refugee American Loyalist, around 1800 or so, hits his thumb with a hammer and says ''Jee-hossey-fat'' or something like that (my Great Grandfather) Where does this expression come from please?
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The pronunciation of “peripheral”

Some time ago, I heard the pronunciation of the word peripheral on a TV show (Brain Games, to be exact). Very surprised to hear /pəɹɪfəɹəl/, I asked two close relatives whether that was how the word ...
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Origin of “height”

According to Etymonline, Height, has many different possible origins. height (n.) Old English hiehþu, Anglian hehþo "highest part or point, summit; the heavens, heaven," from root of heah ...
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What is the etymology of the term “Bumfiddler”?

I heard about about the term 'bumfiddler' from a E-Newsletter I receive, and I was wondering the etymology of this term? Is it a purely sexual phrase, or does it have a more mainstream / normal ...
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What did people really say when knighting someone? [closed]

A while ago, on a different PC than the one I am now using, I curiously looked up this question and found out that people did not say "I dub thee..." or "Arise..." to him who was being made a knight, ...
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Why does quizzes have two zs [duplicate]

I didn't think I had to add an extra z when making it plural, but I did. Why is that? Just some weird anomaly like so many things in English spelling? Or is there a history behind it?
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What is the etymology of the term “Cockpit”?

I have always been intrigued by the word cockpit and have wondered where it originated. I have heard that it originated in the times of cock fights; is this true? If it is, how did the word evolve ...
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What is the origin of the expression “to twig to something”?

Oddly enough, the OED (1971 Compact Edition) has no entry for twig to, only for twig something: twig v4 slang or colloq. [Origin unascertained] [...] b. To become aware of by seeing; to ...
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Etymology of “Horsengoggle”

(Note to the dyslexic: be sure NOT to confuse this with “Google”.) Horse and goggle --> Horse 'n' goggle --> Horsengoggle There is a Wikipedia entry for this hand game: a kind of ...
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Etymology and meaning of “to throw a bean ball at someone”

I was reading an online article when I came across this phrase (condensed to highlight the point in question) : Context: Jack and Jill are having a heated argument... Jill threw a hard bean ball ...
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First usage of the word “baby” to mean fetus or any synonym of fetus

Does anyone know of a source that would indicate the first (give or take) usage of the word "baby" to mean fetus or any synonym of fetus? Every reference I've found thus far points to the usual ...
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Why “paediatrics” but “pedagogue” in British English?

There's an account of the British ae/oe and American "e" spellings (as in diarrh(o)ea, f(a)eces, and other fun words) on wikipedia. What I'm wondering is why, even in British English, ...
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What's the etymology of “Blue dollar”?

In the context of currency exchange in Argentina, what's the etymology of "Blue dollar" exchange rates? The US dollar isn't blue (it's green) and apart from "blue movies", I haven't heard of "blue" ...
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Differences between 'sensual' and 'sensuous'

Both are adjectives; Sensual: "Connected with your physical feelings; giving pleasure to your physical senses." (OALD) the origin is from Latin sensulis, from sensus 'faculty of feeling, thought, ...
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Can anyone locate the paragraph from Laurence Sterne (1700's) on the word “cool”?

Can anyone locate for me the work written by Laurence Sterne (early 1700's) in which he discussed the word "cool"? Eg "Tristram Shandy", "Travels with my Aunt" or whatever. I certainly read it, but ...
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Is it really possible to be “half dead”?

It is not all-too-rare to hear of someone being "half-dead," but is that logical, or possible? If so, how do you determine just how dead, percentage-wise, a person is? If it's possible to be 50% ...
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What is the origin of the term “sure as <SHEXPLETIVE>”? [closed]

Where did the term "sure as shit" originate? I have googled and googled, and I cannot find a source.
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From pharos to lighthouse

Pharos and lighthouse indicate: a tall structure topped by a powerful light used as a beacon or signal to aid nautical navigation. Ngram shows that lighthouse usage has been preferred ...
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How can people “stand down”?

What I am particularly interested in is the phrasal verb stand down. According to Oxford Online Dictionary, it means: Relax or cause to relax after a state of readiness: However, whenever I ...
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Origin of “blimey”

According to Etymonline: (It is also used in excitement.) blimey by 1889, probably a corruption of (God) blind me! First attested in a slang dictionary which defines it as "an apparently ...
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Why 'veins' not 'arteries'?

I was watching a show and there was a dialogue Her blood flows through my veins. Why do they say veins? Why not arteries? What is it's origin?
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Is there a social class shift in “raff” to “raffish”?

I have just watched a historical documentary on the life of Edward VII in which it is explained how the heir to Queen Victoria, both as Prince Of Wales and later as King had been a quintessential ...
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Demonyms - When a place ends on an “s” sound, why are its inhabitants sometimes spelled with a “t”? (e.g. Mars - Martian)

I am not natively English speaking and I was wondering about this spelling when I saw the title of the movie "The Martian". This pattern also seems to apply to other things ending on an "s" sound, ...
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Unpossible / Impossible

While reading Richard II, I came across the word unpossible: BUSHY: For us to levy power proportionable to the enemy is all unpossible. This is the only use of unpossible in all of Shakespeare's ...
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What is the origin of “wassel”? [closed]

(This can also be spelled in other ways.) The Wassel I am talking about is a common Christmas Drink. It is made of Orange Juice, Apple Cider, Fruit Juices, and a bunch of spices. My Dad makes this ...
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363 views

What is the origin of the phrase “War never changes”

All the games of the Fallout franchise start their intro with the phrase War. War never changes... I was wondering if this was an original phrase or was it from literature or some speech?
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Origin of the name 'Knickerbocker Glory'?

A Knickerbocker Glory is a type of ice cream sundae, but I'm having trouble finding out where the name originates. Searching on the internet has given me several conflicting answers (e.g. it's named ...