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

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Is there an etymological relationship between “obvious” and “obviate” [closed]

It is obvious to me that the words are related, just by spelling. Yet, no dictionary I glanced though reveals the link. I guess that obvious is something that eliminates (obviates) the uncertainty. It ...
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Origin of “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”?

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. - Confucious What is the origin, and evolution, of this popular quote? It has a nice air of pseudo-profundity to it; one problem ...
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what is the origin of the term travel [closed]

What is the origin of the term travel and how broad is the term travel? What is it intended to encompass?
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63 views

Can I be “friendfully yours” [closed]

friendly (advs). : Used to mean 'in a friendly manner. I am wondering if "friendfully" was/is in standard usage and would I sound primitive or ungrammatical if I dare write "friendfully yours" ...
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253 views

Why is “viva” pronounced `/ˈvaɪ.və/` in the academic sense?

Usually, (and intuitively), the word is pronounced /ˈviː.və/ or /ˈviː.vɑ/ However, I recently learned that in the academic context, the same term is pronounced /ˈvaɪ.və/. Why is this the case, and ...
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198 views

What is the derivation of “peanuts” meaning “of little value”?

The phrase working for peanuts is common (at least in American English) to indicate that someone is compensated very little. The word peanuts is defined by Oxford Online as (peanuts) informal A ...
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Origins of “turn over in his grave”?; “turn over in her grave”? etc., etc

The best result of my google-search for the origins of the idiomatic phrase, “turn over in the grave” was this, from wikipedia: One of the earliest uses is found in William Thackeray's 1849 work ...
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239 views

Idiom: to be off the wall

When I come across idioms that are not transparent I try to find out what is behind such expressions. In the case of "to be off the wall" one does not see anything that might lead to the meaning ...
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How did 'sluice' evolve to have 2 distinct meanings?

What explains this word's opposing meanings? Can they be conciliated? I already understand and so ask NOT about the definition, below which I want to burrow. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. ...
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81 views

Position of stress in English words derived from New Latin

In another thread on this site a question was asked about the pronunciation of the word Caribbean; that discussion focused on the position of the accent. Cognate forms of the word Caribbean have ...
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171 views

What's the origin of the phrase “into the weeds”?

In(to) the weeds is a common way of saying there is unnecessary or too much information or detail about a particular subject. Where did this phrase come from?
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what is the origin of the word “OK” [duplicate]

I'm trying to find out where does the word OK come from?
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33 views

Where did the idea of using X to mean 'Extra' first start?

It makes sense, but I'm curious as to how long ago it started and where.
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149 views

How and when did “bash” and “do” come to mean party?

I am on my way to a faculty party at the university. The Head of Sciences is retiring and is throwing a huge bash, all his staff, selected external examiners like me and various scientists from ...
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78 views

Use and meaning of o between words in blends

First things first: I'm italian, so please apologize me for my poor english. While trying to create a name for a thing, I got curious by the question in the title. Many English words (new and old ...
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263 views

Why does a Cheshire cat grin, and how long has it been doing so?

Most people are familiar with the expression "grin like a Cheshire cat" from Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (1865), which goes so far as to provide a glimpse of the grin without the cat. But the ...
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226 views

There's a pork chop in every beer, origin

I first heard this expression when, as a bartender, I asked a patron who'd ordered a pint if he wanted to see a menu. His response: "I'm all right, thanks. There's a pork chop in every beer." I've ...
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Etymology of “cut someone some slack”

Teenagers. All the literature tells you one thing and one thing only – that whatever they are doing, give them a break, cut them some slack, it's normal. From the novel, Apple Tree Yard I'm ...
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“Tommyknockers”: why the “tommy” prefix in AmE?

From The Tommyknockers by Stephen King: Late last night and the night before, Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers, knocking at the door. I want to run, don't know if I can, 'cause I'm so afraid of ...
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53 views

How did 'deliverance' evolve to have 2 distinct meanings?

What's a derivation or rationalisation that helps to remember its meaning? I already understand and so ask NOT about the definition, which I want to dredge below. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. ...
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95 views

Is a syllable defined phonetically or etymologically?

Reading recent postings about syllables I've been struck and baffled by talk of the possibility that words may have a different number of syllables when they are written than when they are spoken. Is ...
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134 views

Is there an etymological relation between the words “exorcism” and “sorcery”?

I've been wondering for a while now whether the words "exorcism" and "sorcery" are related etymologically in any way. The question came to me from the fact that, in Greek, we have the word εξορκισμός ...
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Origin of golden parachute

noun 1. an employment contract or agreement guaranteeing a key executive of a company substantial severance pay and other financial benefits in the event of job loss caused by the company's being ...
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101 views

Is 'arrogant' a masculine word? [closed]

I was trying to think of a word to describe a female acquaintance and came up with arrogant, but immediately wanted to discard this as the word itself felt masculine to me. I later settled on ...
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241 views

Why is Greece not called in English by the name Hellas? [duplicate]

The Greeks call their country Hellas and themselves Hellenes. The names Greece and Greek are of Roman origin and were adopted from Latin Graecus into old High German as Crêch and then in all ...
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The history of 'aisle' and 'isle'

I've read about how the word 'aisle' and 'isle' each came from the French 'aile' and 'ile', respectively. I also read how the there was confusion between the two words, such that when 'isle' gained ...
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“Batchy” indicating a bad taste?

My grandmother uses the term batchy to refer to food and drink with tastes that young palates won’t appreciate. For example: “Nana, can I try some coffee?” “No, dear. You don’t want that. ...
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Etymology: “main” meaning sea or ocean

In Kipling's "The Land" he writes: Then did robbers enter Britain from across the Northern main And our Lower River-field was won by Ogier the Dane. Here "main" seems to mean sea, i.e. the ...
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On the origin of 'blizzard '.

Blizzard is probably the most used word to indicate a violent snowstorm. Despite its popularity the etymology of the term is quite unclear. Some well-known sources hint at its onomatopoeic sound as ...
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Etymology: Camelot

Camelot sounds, and looks, a lot like the French camelote. Camelote, though, means something like trash or junk. Camelot means just the opposite though: Oxford Dictionary of English (2nd Edition ...
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Etymology of “[Where/What/Why] in the world” idiom? [closed]

I've searched the internet and found definitions, but I cannot figure out when this would have EVER meant anything. Any ideas? Specifically, the type of phrase I am referring to is "What in the world ...
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115 views

What's the meaning of “mean” in “in the mean time”?

As I understand it "in the mean time" means "in the time between now & a specific future occurrence." What's the meaning of "mean" here? I assume it has something to do with "average" but it's ...
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70 views

Word and etymology for “small of one's back”

I've encountered the phrase small of one's back often when I was reading the Divergent series, and recently encountered it again on a Wikipedia article. I've searched its meaning on the internet, but ...
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How to rationalise the 'pro-' prefix in 'promiscuous' ? [closed]

I ask not about the definition itself, but about the impact or role of the prefix in English: promiscuous (adj.) c.1600, people or things, "mingled confusedly, grouped together without ...
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What's the origin of the “memory lane”?

Where does this meme come from (as in a trip down memory lane) ? Is it from a book ?
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English tv programme about the origins of words and idioms [closed]

Does anyone remember a series of programmes on UK tv about the origins of words and idioms? They focused each programme on a different aspect of society, for example: church, navy, farming, pubs. I've ...
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131 views

If pogonotrophy means to grow a beard, is there a term for shaving a beard?

If pogonotrophy means "to grow a beard", is there a term for shaving a beard? How would you use pogonotrophy in a sentence? And if there is an antonym for this word, how would you use it in a ...
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Looking for the source of “SJO” or “South Jersey Original”?

Looking for source of "SJO" or "South Jersey Original" used to describe a person from Southern New Jersey whose behavior (usually idiosyncratic) is startling or otherwise worthy of note.
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209 views

Etymology of “bizarre”?

bizarre n. "very strange or unusual" I know that it (likely) comes from Basque. Does anyone have a certain knowledge of this? I heard that it comes from Italian from some sources, too.
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93 views

Etymology for “loganamnosis”

It's a condition in which one suffers the inability to remember to the word he or she wants to use and then becomes obsessed with trying to remember it. What is this interesting word's root? Could ...
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100 views

Etymology for “petrichor”

It means "a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather" according to my Oxford Dictionary of English. But if it is broken down or traced, what ...
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72 views

Connection between arachnid and arachidonic? [closed]

Is there an etymological connection between words like "arachnid" (related to spiders) and words like "arachidonic" (related to peanuts)?
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97 views

Where do all the fox references come from? [closed]

A person can be crazy like a fox, and attractive lady is foxy or even a fox, an old book might have foxing, to outsmart someone is to outfox them, if you are confused you are foxed, and there are ...
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676 views

What is the etymology of 'physician'?

I find myself confusing 'physician' and 'physicist' occasionally. While I know what they both mean, I am a little confused as to the use of 'physics' in 'physician'. How did the term 'physician' come ...
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71 views

where does the phrase “sitting duck” orgin? [closed]

Where does the phrase "sitting duck" come from? It is a a person or thing with no protection against an attack or other source of danger.
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121 views

Etymology: bedraggled

"bedraggled" is a past participle adjective from to bedraggle. In the musical My Fair Lady Higgins calls Eliza a bedraggled guttersnipe. I never doubted that bedraggled has some connection with ...
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What is the etymology of “word!” [duplicate]

Many people have begun to use the word "word" seemingly as an exclamation point or as a means to be emphatic. Where and why did this begin?
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Hance/Hence connection?

In researching the verb 'hence' I noted the several forms listed in the OED, two of which were: "hennes or henes" from Middle English usage. Similarly with the verb 'hance' I noted that scholars have ...
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Past tense of wake: is there a difference between “waked”, and “woke”?

I just stumbled over the verb "to wake", which according to various sources has two valid forms for the past tense: "woke" and "waked". Some further research stated, that there seem to be two (Old / ...
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Etymology of 'pre-emptive'

Empt or emptive does not exist as a word, and I suppose never has. Pre-empt and pre-emptive according to the OED have their origin in Australian land deals of the late-eighteenth century, where ...