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

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Is “anybody's guess” origin anybody's guess?

I was looking for the origin of the common expression "anybody's guess" but I couldn't find any much evidence. Checking with Ngram it appears the expression become suddenly popular during the 30's ...
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Why “the powers that be”?

In the phrase "the powers that be," as in the sentence: It would never have occurred to the powers that be to run and supervise the National Lottery from anywhere but London. Oxford ...
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Etymology of ~Getting into someone's “kitchen”~

Popular in the 80s and early 90s in Black-American culture, but I doubt it made it into many books so we may be at a loss. The meaning, quite visual, is walking into someone's house and banging all ...
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“Lest” or “Or?”

Colloquially, I would always use or where I would formally use lest. For example, "go to sleep, or you'll be tired" versus "go to sleep, lest you be tired." Has this usage of or been around for ...
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What's the origin of “lit”?

Since June 2015, use of the word lit has exploded on Twitter. Here's some recent examples. Nena Marie: My Year is starting off lit af👌🏼 ...but is gonna be TD by Monday morning Nick: Jason ...
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From the horse jockey to the disc jockey

Jockey was first used to refer to a person who rides a horse in races from the second half of the 17th century: Etymonline says that jockey (n.) is a variant of the name Jack: 1520s, "boy, ...
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“th” in mother, father, brother— but not sister

I was wondering why there is a "th" in mother, father, and brother, but not in sister? Is the etymology of the word different?
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What is the significance of having a silent letter like “k” in a word? [duplicate]

Why is the k silent in: known /nəʊn/; knife /nʌɪf/, and knight /nʌɪt/? What does this specify?And what is k doing there if there is no need to pronounce it?
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Origin of “Hotel” [closed]

As in Wikipedia "a motel is a hotel designed for motorists and usually has a parking area for motor vehicles." So, I thought that since "M" refers to motorists, perhaps "H" in hotel refers to ...
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Why are dogs “neutered”, horses “gelded”, and people “castrated”?

Why is there a different word to explain the removal of testes for these three animals? Also, can I use all three for any animal?
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Squeegee with a squeegee

Squeegee is: a scraping implement, usually consisting of a straight-edged blade of india-rubber, gutta-percha, or the like, attached to the end of a long handle, for removing water, mud, etc. ...
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'Evenest' vs 'most even' word usage and its history

When I am looking for the superlative form of 'even' which would be evenest, I was surprised that it's rarely used. [This 'even' which means something smooth and regular] The only source that I found ...
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History/origin of the pronunciation/spelling of “Butcher”?

The pronunciation of the first syllable of butcher as /ˈbʊt͡ʃ ..../ is for non-native speakers astonishing. From spelling alone, one would probably guess that it's pronunciation would be more like ...
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69 views

How does 'unless' mean 'or'?

Source: p 319, A Concise Introduction to Logic (12 Ed, 2014), by Patrick Hurley in propositional logic it is usually simpler to equate “unless” with “or.” In and using only ordinary English ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “pilgrims and strangers in the/this world”?

I came across the phrase "we are pilgrims, and strangers in the world" recently in something I was reading and made a note of it. I remembered reading it in David Copperfield, but I seem to have been ...
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Part Two: When was “googleable” or “googlable” first used?

Part One Part one is here, and cites references and dates about the verb ‘to google’, and asks about the syllabification and spelling of googl(e)able. Part Two This was originally my second ...
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Using “put hair on your chest” for women

The idiom put hair(s) on someone's chest means: Fig. to do or take something to invigorate or energize someone, always a male, except in jest: Here, have a drink of this stuff! It'll put hair ...
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The origin of “premium” as an adjective

The original meaning of premium is a reward given for some specific act or as an incentive; a prize. as per its etymology: Premium (n.) (Etymonline): c. 1600, "reward given for a specific ...
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Kingsman vs King's man

When you look up the word kingsman in Wiktionary, its etymology shows that it is compounded with king + s + man in the same way as Klansman (Ku Klux Klan's member), huntsman (a man who hunts) or ...
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Silent “e” at the end of words

Back in 2009, a job interviewer sent me a link to a web service that would help me make a free telephone call via the internet... Skype. As a native speaker, I knew "instinctively" to pronounce this ...
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“Who came in like a white kittling."

Within the context of 17th century witch-hunting, a kittling was apparently commonly known as some kind of animal. Perhaps the obvious first guess is a misspelled kitten, or some kind of bird, or a ...
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What does “Swish” mean?

According to Oxford Online Dictionary, the word swish means among other things: Basketball, informal: a shot that goes through the basket without touching the backboard or rim. It sounds like ...
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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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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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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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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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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 ...
3
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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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265 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, ...