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

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“Re” prefix vs remote

My first post here, hello everyone. :) Feel free to suggest changes to this question. I was just wondering why is the word remote unlike the other words starting with “re” like replay, reply, ...
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What was the original pronunciation of 'Zounds'?

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the exclamation 'Zounds!' comes from the phrase 'God's wounds'. This seems to suggest that the original pronunciation rhymed with 'wounds' rather than ...
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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 ...
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What is the “line” in “cash on the line”? Is it a ship mooring line?

In the phrase "cash on the line" (immediate payment, payment during the transaction), what was "line", originally? I suspect it was a ship mooring line but I'd like to be sure. (I imagine a ship ...
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For 'also', how is ' the demonstrative sense of “similarly” weakened to “in addition to” '?

also (adv.) Old English eallswa "just as, even as, as if, so as, likewise," compound of all + so. The demonstrative sense of "similarly" weakened to "in addition to" in 12c., replacing eke. ...
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Why do we say “to fall in love”? Is it something unwished for?

I was exploring the phrases for "to fall in love" in some other languages. And I came out with the result, only English describes the state of starting to feel love for someone as "falling". I wonder ...
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What is the origin of the term “woo”?

On the Skeptics StackExchange you quite often read users referring to certain things and practices as "woo". What is the origin of this word? How did it come to be synonymous with skeptics?
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Where did the phrase “drop the hammer” come from?

Where did the phrase "drop the hammer" come from? It's what you do when you start to go balls to the wall. I've only heard it rowing.
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Etymology: The root of the words 'real' and 'reality'

I wish to identify the oldest known root from which we derive the words 'real' and 'reality', et cetera. I got as far as determining the origin of the English words real and reality is Latin res, ...
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Where do “‑ess” and “‑ine” suffixes come from?

English has a lot of words in which the suffix ‑ess makes a word feminine, such as actress, hostess, huntress. That looks like a suffix that is also used frequently in Italian, so I’d guess it has ...
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What is a -thrope or a -thropy? Where does that suffix come from?

Words like "misanthrope," "philanthropy," and "lycanthrope" have a common ending which I can't find the origin of. I found some other, rarer words using this suffix--- apanthropy, aphilanthropy, ...
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Etymology of “ping”

According to Wikipedia ping, the IP network utility, was named after the sonar "ping", which is apparently onomatopoeic. However, "ping" is now used in the vernacular in the sense of "pinging" ...
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What is origin of the word “fluent”? [closed]

We often hear people say that they speak English fluently. fluent: (of a person) able to express oneself easily and articulately. (dict) But what did that word come from? Did it came from fluid ...
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What's the etymology of 'of' after verbs?

(TL;DR) While reading about preposition of on OED (eg avail of, enquire of), I encountered a possible explanation: quoted below, OED claims that the postverbal of originates from the genitive case, ...
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Etymology of “Spaghetti and gravy”

In Nero Wolfe "Before I die", the gangster's sidekick asks for spaghetti and gravy. After Wolfe's chef Fritz prepares him spaghetti with the type of gravy used for roast beef, it turns out that the ...
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What's the origin of the “Dare to …” pattern for slogans?

There are many slogans stated as an imperative of the form "Dare to X", where "to X" is an infinitive phrase. This typically exhorts the listener to do X, without fear or hesitation. It may ...
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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?
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What does “wound for sound” mean and where did it come from?

This is a figure of speech that's been in my lexicon virtually forever. I'm not sure where I learned this, but to me it means "keyed up and ready to go". A combination of high energy, tension, and ...
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Etymology of “horny”

What is the etymology of "horny"? It isn't related to rhino horn, because rhino horn isn't used as an aphrodisiac in traditional Chinese medicine. Wiktionary doesn't have any etymology info The ...
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Origin of Soccer

What is called football in most of countries, called soccer in US. However, there are some inconsistent usage of these terms. For example, in Australia, they have Football Federation Australia (FFA) ...
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How did 'to intimate' evolve to mean 'suggest indirectly'?

intimate (v.) [⟸] "suggest indirectly," 1530s, back-formation from intimation, or else from Late Latin intimatus, past participle of intimare. [...] intimate (adj.) [...] [⟸] ...
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Where did the phrase, “You did a bean,” come from?

I grew up in Texas in the 60s. My dad grew up in Waco and moved to New Jersey during World War II. He contributed may German phrases to our lives. My mom was born in central Texas, but her dad was ...
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Do “carat” and “karat” have the same origin?

Do carat and karat have the same origin? Is it correct to say that carat derives from the Italian carato, while karat derives from the from Arabic ḳīrāṭ? Is it possible that both words derive from ...
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Origin of mandarin

A friend of mine said that the Chinese language and the fruit are called so because the officials and governors of the Chinese Empire (initially, counselors) were called "mentors". This happened ...
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Where did the adage, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” come from?

In connection with my questions about the meaning of Pope Francis’s, remarks - 'Who am I to judge?' / 'You can add more water to the beans'. I found the following statement in a New York Times (July ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “needle in a hay stack”?

What is the origin of the phrase "needle in a hay stack"? Initially I thought it was a game once played but I haven't found any mention of it outside of it's idiomatic use.
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Origin and meaning of “chaff before the wind”

I've usually encountered the phrase "chaff before the wind" in the context of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I would like to know where it originates from historically and what imagery should come ...
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Origins and history for phrase “tote that barge”?

In the 1927 musical "Show Boat" there is a famous song -- Old Man River -- with the lyric "Tote that barge. Lift that bale." being sung by the slaves/laborers in the musical. The word tote typically ...
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Etymology of the phrase “Dependency injection” in computer science

It's my understanding that this used to be simply referred to as "reference passing" but later became formalized into a pattern that implemented a design principle and acquired the new name. Can you ...
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Where do the words for daughter, son, aunt, uncle, mother, father, cousin, nephew, niece come from?

Please see Title. I'm not specifically referring to which language they came from... but if they come from something else. In other words, do they come from words with other meanings. For example, do ...
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What do 'drive' and 'hard' refer to in 'drive a hard bargain'?

If I have to say that "this person(X) does very good bargaining" in a more refined way, I should ideally write "X drives a hard bargain". (I saw it in a book). I know that I have to use 'bargain' word ...
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What is the origin of “rag” meaning newspaper?

In Australia and the UK, some folks refer to a newspaper as a rag, and I am curious how this term was coined. Although most people would ask for a newspaper, I have gone around asking "Have you got a ...
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Origin of “Best boy” - a film crew position

For a long time I saw a title in the list of movie crew positions that was strange to me, Best boy. Wikipedia says about that: In a film crew there are two kinds of best boy: best boy electric ...
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The origin of the term half assed

Does this slang originate from half asked, since the difinition means exactly that. You only did half what I asked you.
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How did 'forthwith' evolve to mean 'immediately'?

[OED:] Etymology: For forth with (preposition), = earlier forth mid, along with, see forth adv. 2c. The adverb forthwith originates from this phrase, the preposition being used absol. or with ...
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What is the origin of 'common or garden'?

Why do we speak, for example, of a 'common or garden' bicycle, meaning one that simply does the job of a bicycle without alloy wheels, Sir Bradley Wiggins pedals or any other bells and whistles. ...
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A word that describes different forms of the same word?

Is there a word that describes the many different forms of a root word (and I don't mean tense). In this example specifically the root word would be compare...and the form of it is comparatively. But ...
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Are these two meanings of “phenomenal” related?

I had seen the word phenomenal translated into Chinese words with an equivalent meaning "of phenomenon" in more and more text especially regarding sports. For example, LeBron James had a ...
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Origin of “zero”

Dictionary.com gave the origin as: 1595–1605; < Italian < Medieval Latin zephirum < Arabic ṣifr cipher I'm just wondering who coined the actual English term 'zero'? I know that ...
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If you can be “discombobulated”, is it possible to be “combobulated”?

I've often heard the word "discombobulated" used. But I've never heard of something being "combobulated", and it's not in any dictionary I've looked at. If "combobulated" is not word, where did ...
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Etymology of “Given up the ghost”

What is the origin of the phrase "Given up the ghost"? e.g. "After 10 years, my DVD player has finally given up the ghost." Does it have a religious connotation?
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Is there any relation between “genius” and “ingenious”?

They seems to mean the same thing, yet when spoken they sound like the negative of each other. What's the secret behind those two words?
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Why are reveries sometimes called “brown” studies?

Though this idiom is by no means very common, one comes across it now and then. (I just came across it again today, which is why I'm asking this question.) Why is a "brown study" so named?
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Why is “preconceive” wrong?

Spell checks always mark it as wrong, though its initial existence is pre + conceive; but it is always corrected to "preconceived." What about situations like this though? People preconceive ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “wind your neck in!”?

I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on the origin of the phrase in title.
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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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How much of the English language comes from each of its influences?

I was watching a video linked in this answer and it made the following claim: [...] like most words in English is derived from German. That got me thinking. While I know that Germanic languages ...
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Origin of “to have an axe to grind”

Where does the idiom to have an axe to grind come from? To have personal, selfish reasons to do or say something.
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Is “fasciae” related to “fascism”?

Somebody used fasciae in a game I was playing (it was the bundle of sticks or twigs carried by Roman consuls as symbols of their authority). Can anyone tell me if it is related to fascism as a word?