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 the origin of the phrase “bo selecta”?

The phrase means literally "good song" or "good DJ". selecta is the DJ ("the selector"). But why that spelling? And where does bo come from? Is it from the French beau or the Latin bona? Is there a ...
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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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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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90 views

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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412 views

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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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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496 views

what are the origins of hi, hey, hello?

What are the origins of hi, hey and hello? Are they related?
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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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69 views

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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783 views

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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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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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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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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120 views

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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Is “Ur-moment” a normal English expression?

The New York Times article of this past July 29th titled, “The D.O. Is In Now: Osteopathic Schools Turn Out Nearly a Third of All Med School Grads,” features the growing popularity of the Touro ...
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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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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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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 “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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Origin of the expression “pull your finger out”

I've heard that "pull your finger out" came from muzzle loaded gunnery. One of the team firing the gun would put his finger in the hole during loading to prevent embers being ejected form the hole. ...
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170 views

What are the most common ways to say “die”, i.e. pass away? [closed]

It seems like my question was too broad to answer. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I've edited my question a little. So, I would like to know what common terms I can use instead of the word "die." ...
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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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Etymology of “throw good money after bad”?

The idiom "throwing good money after bad" refers to spending more money on something problematic that one has already spent money on, in the (presumably futile) hopes of fixing it or recouping one's ...
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Origin of British term “to bits”

British people sometimes use "love to bits" and "thrilled/chuffed to bits" to indicate extremes. Despite searching high and low, I could not find the origin of the phrase "to bits", other than ...
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Origin of “Arachnoleptic fit”

In various websites on the Internet, including http://www.joke-archives.com/dictionaries/dictionarywords.html, I've come across the phrase Arachnoleptic fit. Apparently all the words in that set ...
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105 views

What is the primary meaning of 'knocked up'

There seem to be several meanings; Awoken in the morning; Made pregnant; Put together/prepared quickly or on the fly; Made tired/worn out. I have never heard of this last meaning which (used earlier ...
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Why is the OED's first reference to *irredentism* as late as 1886?

Irredentism (from the Italian irredento, 'unredeemed') has a first reference in the OED as late as 1886. Yet irredentism, the problem which had plagued European statesmen for generations was deeply at ...
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Where does “flying in the face” come from?

To "fly in the face of" something means to be opposite it, with a particular connotation that is hard to describe. Where does the expression come from?
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Origin of “tail over teakettle”?

"Tail over teakettle" is one of several similar phrases to describe a tumble or fall. But where/how did this originate? A few web searches give me pages where people use the phrase, and one of the ...
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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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Why is it “have someone wrapped around your LITTLE finger”?

I just had occasion to write she's got him wrapped around her finger (under complete control). I'd never really thought about this one before, but my guess would have been the idiom had some ...
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What is the origin of “go suck an egg”?

"Go suck an egg" is a saying typically used similarly to "take a hike" or "piss off": Hey, you going to help me with this or what? Go suck an egg. An few Ngram searches shows that "suck an ...
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“Nightmare” derivation

I did some research about word nightmare. In most cases this is what I've found: night + Old English mære "incubus." I would like to use the word mare for poetic purposes, but its meaning in ...
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Where does the slang word “bad” + “ass” (badass) come from?

What is the origin of the word badass? Why a "bad" ass/"bad" + "ass"? What is an ass that is bad and how can an ass that is bad describe a tough person?
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When did 'permission' become popular as a therapy term

Permission has several uses, but somewhere around the 1990s it became common to hear it in the context of therapy sessions as in "you need to give yourself permission to..." do this or that. When did ...
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“Stadiums” vs. “stadia” [duplicate]

I'm not that old, but when I was a child/teen, stadia was the common term. As in: Wembley, the Nou Camp, and the Santiago Bernabeu are football stadia. The MCG and Lord's are cricket stadia. ...
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How does the word “cardinal” relate to “cardinal numbers”

Cardinal number In linguistics, more precisely in traditional grammar, a cardinal number or cardinal numeral (or just cardinal) is a part of speech used to count, such as the English words ...
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Why is there no “autumntime” or “falltime”?

Why is "autumntime" (or "falltime") not a word? wintertime => sure springtime => fine summertime => lovely But apparently autumn/fall has no equivalent. Why?
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“So I told a porcupine…”

I heard this phrase spoken on a British TV show. It was obvious from context that it meant 'a little white lie'. How did this colloquialism arise? I have my own theory about about how this may have ...
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How did nominal come to mean “within acceptable tolerances”?

The word "nominal" has a number of definitions. For example, the Free Dictionary gives seven: nom·i·nal (nm-nl) adj. a. Of, resembling, relating to, or consisting of a name or names. ...
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Origin of New Jersey idiom “down the shore”

As a native Midwesterner, I was very puzzled to hear my wife (who is from northern New Jersey) use that idiom. I understand what it means, and as far as I can remember I understood what it meant from ...
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Does anyone know where “crack down” comes from?

There’s crack up, crack down, and crack on (?). I am curious about the origin of the phrase crack down. Also, what does it literally mean?
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What is the origin of “dox” and “doxing”?

Wikipedia has a solid description of what "doxing" is: Doxing is the Internet-based practice of researching and publishing personally identifiable information about an individual. They also make ...
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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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'equity' in finance

I'm not asking about its formal definition (a windy one here) or its general definition in English, the latter of which states: Stocks and shares that carry no fixed interest: Instead, I'm ...
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Why football and rugby clubs use “Racing Club” in their names?

There are many sport clubs with the name Racing Club of [town name]. It seems that Racing Club is an old name for clubs of runners. But I don't understand why is it used for football or rugby clubs ...
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Why are female wizards called “witches”?

I was looking up these two words in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English: Wizard: Witch: It's mentioned in the Word Origin section that Wizard comes from "Wise", while for "Witch" it ...
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What's the original meaning of “Abraxis”?

Today I realized that I'd been running into the name 'Abraxis' in quite a few different places, and I didn't know what it meant. If it appeared once or twice as the name of a fictional character or a ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “knock-down, drag-out”?

I can find this phrase in a few dictionaries: knock-down, drag-out — marked by extreme violence or bitterness and by the showing of no mercy knock–down, drag–out political debates But I ...