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

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Construe vs. construct

It seems, perhaps obviously, that "construe" and "construct" have nearly identical etymologies. Since that is true, is there a reason--as for "use" instead of "utilize"--that one should use the more ...
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Is 'breadth' related to 'broad'? [closed]

Recently, I was informed that introverts look for depth of knowledge whereas extorverts are about breadth of knowledge. This positions horizontal breadth or width as orthogonal direction to the ...
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“Turkey Day” 100 years ago

I've perceived an uptick in the use of "Turkey Day" to refer to Thanksgiving, and I ran a basic sanity Check against Google Ngrams. It seems to be on the rise since about 1970, but I also noticed a ...
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How did the various meanings of “fare” come about?

The word 'fare' has many different usages that are seemingly unrelated to its root meaning given in the dictionary: "to go or travel". Bus fare - the fee for getting on the bus Thanksgiving ...
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How or why did “sock” come to mean “punch”?

I see that sock as an article of clothing is derived from Latin soccus for slipper. But, how did it also become a synonym for "a punch" or "to punch"?
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What does “he's is not equal to the job” mean?

I know about origin, which comes from the maths symbol ≠. But in this case it must be something else. What does it mean when someone is not equal to something?
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Origin of fag (meaning a cigarette in British English)

Aside from the offensive meaning, colloquial British English uses the term fag to indicate a cigarette. James has gone outside for a fag In my googling, I thought perhaps this originates from ...
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When did men start to lose their “virginity”?

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word virgin came from 2 languages: Anglo-French and Old French virgine "virgin; Virgin Mary" From Latin virginem (nominative virgo) ...
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Origin of “No, a thousand times no”

I was wondering if the term has Indian origins? I recently came across it in the Animal Farm : "But is this simply part of the order of nature? Is it because this land of ours is so poor that it ...
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Latin words borrowed from Roman occupation?

English has a lot of words borrowed from Latin. The great majority were borrowed in the 14- and 1500's from Church/Medieval Latin, a huge influx via educated neologism. I'd like to know if there are ...
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Was “the dark side” used a long time ago in a country far far away?

In the series Breathless, someone made a remark about "the dark side" (joining it, or something). The series was set in the 1960s England, before the first movie in the franchise Star Wars was ...
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Why does “Whip smart” come to mean “Very smart”?

I learned the word, “whip smart” and that there is an idiom, “smart as a whip” for the first time from the following passage of November 26 New York Times’ article that came under the headline, “King ...
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What is the history of the expression “many moons ago”?

What is the history of “many moons ago”? Oxford Dictionaries tell me that the idiom means “a long time ago.” That's when we first met many, many moons ago and then we started having him on ...
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A word that means/defines to live a philosophical life[style]?

So this is a continuation of sorts to a thread I started a while ago about *a word that means/defines The Converse of Philosophy... * The question is... If the etymology of bio- is [Greek bio-, ...
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What's the origin of music “charts”?

A chart is often used to mean a map or graph of some description, but also the top selling musical hits week by week: A map showing coastlines, water depths, or other information of use to ...
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Where does “shakedown” come from?

I am referring to shakedown meaning a thorough search as in : the morning after their arrival, scouts and their leaders endure the shakedown, where their backpacks are inspected with drill ...
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What exactly does “The guy's multiplying faster than a Catholic rabbit.” mean?

Was watching Avengers: Age of Ultron. In that Nick Fury says this about Ultron, The guy's multiplying faster than a Catholic rabbit. What does that mean?
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What is the origin of the phrase “What, me worry”? (It isn't Mad Magazine!)

In Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, Erik Larson discusses the early history of the submarine. According to Larson, the submarine was regarded as an "iron coffin" until the work of John ...
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Why does law use “assigns” instead of “assignees”?

Assign is typically a verb. Only in legal writing do we see it used as a noun, meaning "the entity to which something is assigned," and usually as part of a "successors and assigns" clause. ...
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Why should etymology stop where it does?

I might want to go to the linguists' neck of the woods with this, but let me post it here first for the benefit of the intrepid souls who can appreciate a good challenge. There are many words whose ...
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How was “tin can phone”/“string phone” called before telephone invented?

Or was anything carrying sound to remote already called phone before telephone?
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Why so many curses have religious references?

In particular those of surprise or anger. For example Bloody hell, Oh my god, God dammit, Holy crap, Jesus Christ, F*#king hell,
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Why “out” in “eat your heart out”?

I used the phrase the other day and it struck me as odd that out is needed. Wiktionary cites the following etymology of sorts: Disputed. Three schools of thought exist: From "This will eat ...
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Idiom - “To put the hurt on”

I heard the idiom "put the hurt on" a lot growing up and I have a rough feeling of what it means but I'm not quite sure how to boil down the meaning to something I can explain to someone else. A good ...
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Anaylsis of Text and Words choice between 'Calumniate vs Asperse vs besmirch'

I stumbled upon these intriguing sentences and words when reading the text: That passion which in common life is termed, anger, fury, vengeance or delirium, becomes zeal as soon as its object is ...
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Why don't we say things are pervious?

Why is the word "pervious" uncommon to the point of being considered a spelling error, but "impervious" is extremely common? For the record, it is a word, apparently. Dictionary.com defines it as: ...
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Where did 'cahoot" come from, when did it first appear, and how did it acquire its pejorative sense?

According to Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003), cahoot, meaning a partnership or league, and usually expressed in the plural form "in cahoots," has a first known publication date ...
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Use of “lever” in The Great Gatsby

I'm doing a line by line analysis of The Great Gatsby. In critical commentary, the scene at the end of chapter two is frequently cited as evidence that Nick Carraway is either homosexual or bisexual. ...
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Origin of “retarded” (slang)

retarded[ri-tahr-did] adjective characterized by a slowness or limitation in intellectual understanding and awareness, emotional development, academic progress, etc. Slang. stupid or ...
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What are the derivatives of position with respect to time

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jounce, the derivatives of position with respect to time are position, velocity, acceleration, jerk, snap, crackle, pop. Who came up with snap, crackle, and ...
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derivation of “riddled” as in “riddled with bullets”?

How did "riddled" come to be used as in the phrase "riddled with bullets"? Most definitions only include the puzzle type meaning.
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Etymology of “And the Three Bears”

"And the three bears" is a catch-phrase used to express disbelief:- This new investment will allow the Government to save taxpayers' money! And the three bears. Does anyone know how this ...
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When did the “sales pitch” start?

Sales pitch refers to: (Commerce) an argument or other persuasion used in selling. promotion by means of an argument and demonstration. (Collins Dictionary) Accordino to Etymonline ...
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Recycled Paper vs Recycled Wood

The verb "reclaim" means: Recover (material) for reuse; recycle: 'a sufficient weight of plastic could easily be reclaimed' The verb "recycle" means: Convert (waste) into reusable ...
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difference between kind and type

I somewhat know the difference between kind and type, but I want to know it in detail so I can be able to use these words in my daily conversation. Which one of these is correct? What kind of job ...
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Who coined the term “dummy it”?

As defined by Grammar About.com the “dummy it” is The use of ‘it’ as a subject (or dummy subject) in sentences about times, dates, and the weather (such as, It's raining) and in certain idioms ...
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Origin of “A pox/curse on both their houses”

Does anyone know the source of the expression (A pox, A curse) on both their houses. This is often associated with the end of Romeo and Juliet.
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Origin of “forecast” [closed]

According to Dictionary.com forecast[fawr-kast, -kahst, fohr-] verb (used with object), forecast or forecasted, forecasting. to predict (a future condition or occurrence); calculate ...
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“Scalp a Ticket” vs “Resell a Ticket”

The noun "Scalp" means (mainly): The skin covering the head, excluding the face: 'hair tonics will improve the condition of your hair and scalp' 1.1 [historical] The scalp with the ...
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Origin of the term “top tucker”

In India, at least in the Southern part, there is a phrase "Top tucker" used to compliment/attribute someone for their exceptional qualities/achievements in a colloquial way. The entry Tucker in OED ...
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Does the word 'green board' exist? [closed]

A friend of mine said he bought a green board for his house. However, when he used the word green board, I realized that I never used that word before. Normally, I would call it chalkboard for either ...
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Source of 'BB' in the sense of 'small, spherical pellet of shot'

Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) has the following entry for BB: BB n (1845) 1 : a shot pellet 0.18 inch in diameter for use in a shotgun cartridge 2 : a shot pellet 0.175 ...
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What is the etymology of the word “basic” as used in current slang? [duplicate]

For those not familiar with the term, it is used mainly by teens and 20-somethings. The definition can be found at Urban Dictionary (look at definitions 1 and 3). Specifically, I am not talking ...
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The Converse of Philosophy

The etymology of philosophy is "love of wisdom" (simplified)... So what would the word be that defines the converse of "love of wisdom"? Since it is not definitively established what the converse of ...
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How did “lunatic” evolve to mean “crazy”?

I know what the word "lunatic" means and it has something to do with the "Moon" as the "Online Etymology Dictionary" explains: late 13c., "affected with periodic insanity, dependent on the ...
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Why is “toast” uncountable?

This is ‘English’ toast And this is some posh toast Pain Quotidien offers rye, walnut and sourdough toast at £2.95 for two slices, while Gail’s bakery chain, which opened its first café in ...
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Are the dual transportation and learning meanings of both “coach” and “train” just a coincidence?

In a learning context, you have one individual who "coaches" and another who "trains". In a transportation context, "coaches" and "trains" are both methods of transport. Is this just a coincidence ...
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What's the origin of “all the livelong day?”

I was humming the folksong "I've Been Working on the Railroad" when I hit this phrase... What's its origin? I feel that livelong establishes that the day may feel like an eternity. But I noticed that ...
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Etymologically correct pronunciations that few would accept

Have we been mispronouncing Mount Everest /ˌmaʊnt ˈev(ə)rəst/? It is true that the peak was named after Sir George Everest who pronounced his surname as Eve-rest. But does that etymological detail ...
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Origin of “Bedazzle”

What is the Origin of the word bedazzle? The Audience was bedazzled by her charm. The glare of the Headlights bedazzled him. I will bedazzle my fans tonight. According to the Online ...