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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

0
votes
4answers
693 views

What does “zingo” mean?

I'm doing some maintenance work on some software - whose original developers are unknown. There is a report called the "All Zingo Report", which basically dumps all the data for the primary "entity" ...
-1
votes
0answers
20 views

What is the etymology of algebra

what is the true and full etymology of algebra. I am writing a two page report on the history of the title "algebra" and I need some help with the etymology portion. If anyone could help me that would ...
0
votes
0answers
19 views

Word usage in the phrase “life after death”

Who first coined the phrase "Life after Death"? And since the word "death" means "no longer living", and "life" means "living", I find the phrase and/or question to be a conflict of words. Wouldn't ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Origins and meaning of, “Ham and Egg it”?

This term was used by a MLB sports announcer yesterday (5/10/2015 - Padres vs. Diamondbacks @ 2:10:41) talking about relying on relief pitchers. “Diamondbacks today trying to ham and egg it with ...
1
vote
1answer
44 views

What are little boys made of?

"Snips and Snails and Puppy dogs tails" I've found several possible definitions for a "snip" such as: An insignificant person Something easily obtained, i.e. a bargain A piece of something that ...
10
votes
9answers
323 views

“bucking for” .. like Klinger

In the culturally referrent 1970s USA TV show "MASH", about the Korean war, character Corporal Klinger acts "crazy", specifically wearing female clothing, ... because he is bucking for a section 8 ...
5
votes
1answer
107 views

Why is “cooking show” grammatical, but not “cooking book”?

I enjoy cooking, and I've been told I'm quite a good cook. I have several cookery books 1 at home, mostly on Italian and British cooking, but not one is written by a famous cookery writer 2. ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Are “adult” and “adulterate” cognates?

The word adult appear to have derived from the Latin term adultus, meaning grown up, mature, adult, ripe. Adulterate (and its cognate adultery) is reported to derive from the Latin adulterare - to ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “Nine Below Zero” mean?

There is a Blues Standard "Nine Below Zero" and I wonder what the phrase means. The chorus is Nine Below Zero, she put me down for another And it would also be super interesting where this ...
2
votes
3answers
42 views

Meaning of 'be bond to' in “since ye are bond to that magic” in 19th-century poem

I am reading a poem by Rudyard Kipling, Kitchener's School (http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_kitchener.htm) and I am wondering about the precise meaning/possible connotations of the verb 'be bond ...
31
votes
9answers
6k views

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 ...
0
votes
0answers
35 views

Origin of Turn up one's Nose?

Can someone tell me the origin of the expression "Turn up one's nose"? As in "She turned up her nose at the frog's legs." The reason I ask is that I have seen our horses literally turn up their ...
2
votes
1answer
108 views
+100

A quandary on the etymology of “quandary”

The etymology of "quandary" is uncertain; among the main assumptions there are: 1) the quasi-Latinism assumption: Quandary : "state of perplexity," 1570s, of unknown origin, perhaps a ...
9
votes
3answers
956 views

What does “let it bleed” mean in this context?

What does 'let it bleed' mean in the following sentence? Though the actors give their all, notably Stellan Skarsgård as the brother of the missing Harriet and Joely Richardson as an estranged ...
8
votes
2answers
252 views

Preservation of the en- prefix form of Latin negative prefix in-, in enemy & enmity

The en- in enemy is a prefix meaning "not": the origin is Latin inimicus, from in- + amicus — a "not friend" or an "unfriend" (Online Etymology Dictionary—enemy). The Latin in- changed to en- when ...
-3
votes
3answers
49 views

How did 'equity' semantically shift to be used in 'Home Equity'?

[OED :] Draft additions 1993 The net value of mortgaged property after deduction of charges outstanding on it; more generally, the amount of a debt which has been paid off. Chiefly U.S. [ ...
3
votes
2answers
8k views

Where does the phrase “crazy like a fox” originate?

If you say that someone is "crazy like a fox", it means that their behavior appears to be insane or nonsensical at first glance, but there's actually something very clever and subtle to it that's ...
0
votes
2answers
104 views

Origin of “moke,” used in the mildly derogatory term “you lil' moke”

Does anyone know the origins of this term? I have only managed to track one reference to it. I heard it from my Granny who was Romani. The Online Etymology Dictionary has this short entry: moke ...
9
votes
5answers
8k views

Why is a black eye called a “shiner”?

I saw a photograph of Chris Robshaw, the Harlequins captain, in the paper yesterday sporting a magnificent shiner, and naturally started to wonder where the term originated. Consulting Etymonline ...
18
votes
7answers
3k views

Why is news said to be “breaking”?

I was just wondering what the origins of "breaking news" or "we broke the story" are.
2
votes
0answers
40 views

Use of “trying to” in place of “wanting to” in the US

Is the use of "trying to" in place of "wanting to" occurring nationwide or regionally? What is its prevalence and when did it start? I'm in my late 20s and live in New England. In the past 2-3 ...
8
votes
1answer
690 views

Source of the phrase “call [somebody] out of name”

I was introduced today to the phrase "Call out of name" as in: She claimed the other girl called her out of name. I had to ask what it meant and the answer was "she called her a bitch". I'm ...
6
votes
1answer
80 views

Why isn't the ‘P’ in psychology pronounced? [duplicate]

Why is the initial letter of some of the words like pneumonia, and psychology not pronounced?
20
votes
7answers
8k views

Where does “pizza pie” originate?

The Italianissimo pizza—pronounced /ˈpiʦ:a/—is not always spelled or called pizza around the world: In Bosnia, Belarusian, Macedonia, Serbia it's spelled pica but pronounced /pîtsa/ In ...
1
vote
0answers
26 views

Where did the phrase “a whole new world” come from?

"A whole new world" as in, "a new perspective." Yes, there's the song from the film Aladdin in the 1990s but the saying has been around far longer, hasn't it?
8
votes
3answers
584 views

Where does “contango” come from?

Contango is a very common term in financial business that originally referred to: (on the London stock exchange) a fee paid by a buyer of securities to the seller for the privilege of ...
3
votes
1answer
44 views

Origin of “a lot”

I am working on a novel set in the early 19th century and am wondering if the phrase "a lot" is too contemporary. That happened a lot with debutantes, he mused.
1
vote
2answers
73 views

Etymology of 'clinical' in 'clinical professor'?

I searched for the meaning of 'clinical' and I could not find any association with academia. Why are non-tenure track jobs referred to as 'clinical'? What is the etymology?
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Origin and meaning of the American 1960s slang phrase, “bread is”

I am trying to answer a question from a library patron who remembers the entire phrase, "bread is" that she and her friends used in the 1960s. She accepts that "bread" was used for money or "dough," ...
0
votes
0answers
45 views

Bartleby's famous line [on hold]

As a class we were looking at the expression in Bartleby that is really famous: 'I would prefer not to' There's a lot of research on this, particularly by Deluze, about how this is a very unique ...
1
vote
3answers
18k views

Meaning of the “rupt” suffix/prefix

I was wondering the other day about the word corrupt, found that the suffix "rupt" appears in many words and as a prefix for another set and decided to ask this question: What does "rupt" mean? ...
5
votes
2answers
499 views

Who was Buggins of 'Buggins' turn'?

'Buggins' turn' refers to the practice of assigning appointments to persons in rotation, rather than on merit. The OED records this and gives examples of its use from 1901. As regards etymology it ...
-1
votes
2answers
42 views

Need someone to clear this up

If one is 'beyond reason to deal with' then wouldn't this mean that they are more than reasonable to deal with? In other words, I'm assuming to be 'beyond reason' or 'below reason' is the same thing, ...
21
votes
2answers
3k views

The “F-word” in N-gram Viewer

I was simply fiddling with Ngram viewer when my apparently naughty mind made me type the (real) "F-word" onto the text field, (the time was also chosen randomly, (1750-to-1993)), the results baffled ...
3
votes
1answer
125 views

wrecking vs wracking vs wreaking

What I understand so far: Wrecking - to trash/destroy/be destroyed Wracking - to be tortured, possibly from variant of "rack". http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=wrack also seems to mention ...
2
votes
2answers
63 views

What does “corrupt” etymologically mean? [closed]

I see that interrupt morphologically and semantically means 'to break something intermittently'. I see that corrupt is formed from prefix 'co-' (which I know means "(put) together") and 'rupt' which ...
2
votes
1answer
44 views

How did 'attitude' come to mean 'orientation' in travel?

I read the question WHY (actually) did Rosetta have to go into hibernation for 2.5 years? that uses the term attitude to refer to the orientation of the Rosetta probe: It spun itself up to ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

Origins of “up the duff”

In British English, the term "up the duff" is used to describe a pregnant lady. I've tried to research as to why this is the case but I can't find anything concrete. Oxford has it as: 1940s ...
-1
votes
2answers
2k views

Origin of terms Passed Away and Deceased

I really dislike the expression “Passed away” and would like to know where it came from. I am not keen on “deceased” either. Died seems gentle enough. This from a Low Episcopalian.....
0
votes
1answer
60 views

Are there common etymological links to the words “judge”, “Jew”, “Jude” and 'justice"? [closed]

Are there common etymological links to the words "judge", "Jew", "Jude" and "justice"? One source cited "yew" and/or "yewes" as possible Proto-Indo-European links to "Jew". How about "jewel" amd ...
0
votes
0answers
35 views

Does retard and ritardando have the same etymology? [closed]

Retard means slow of mind, and ritardando means to slow down in music, and they sound they same. It sounds feasible, but I am sceptical; do they have the same origin?
7
votes
1answer
166 views

Why is “renege” pronounced with a hard “g” sound?

The word renege comes from Medieval Latin renegare (source). It is the only English word of Latin origin I'm aware of that doesn't follow the soft g pronunciation rule. The g is hard even though ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Idiom: to be at loggerheads

Idiom to be at loggerheads with someone over sth The meaning is to be in strong disagreement with someone struggling constantly as in The two governments are still at loggerheads over the island. ...
9
votes
3answers
7k views

Why is 'shucks' (as in 'aw, shucks') used with an '-s' ending?

I understand that 'shucks' is a slang that is: used especially to express mild disappointment or embarrassment and this definition is listed separately from 'shuck' (the verb/noun) in ...
0
votes
1answer
46 views

How would you describe the word 'tron'? [closed]

I have searched the meaning of tron and found various results. I though it would be related to working people like robots. Can you please answer me the various possible meaning of tron?
1
vote
0answers
51 views

How did “stone-cold” come to mean completely?

It seems like such an odd arrangement of words that would, in a certain context, mean "completely." Otherwise, it just means "cold." And my Google-fu has failed me; I'm unable to locate an ...
9
votes
1answer
311 views

A swallow does not make a summer … or a spring?

The famous proverb, one swallow does not make a summer means: A single fortunate event doesn’t mean that what follows will also be good. (ODO) the origin, according to the Phrase ...
0
votes
1answer
36 views

What is entware? [closed]

Can someone provide a concise definition or explanation of "entware"? From the context, where I found the only existence of this world, I may suggest, that this may be related to Tolkien's Ents and ...
20
votes
2answers
869 views

Common English Surnames ending in S

A number of common English surnames are the same as common English given names, with the addition of an "S." Examples are Peters, Daniels, Michaels, Matthews, Roberts, Phillips, Isaacs, Williams, ...
6
votes
3answers
189 views

How did 'countenance' evolve to mean 'support or approval'?

[OED:] The extension of sense from ‘mien, aspect’ to ‘face’ appears to be English: compare French use of mine. [ Etymonline for 'countenance (v.)' ] late 15c., "to behave or act," from ...