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

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Etymology of “choice” — New Zealand vernacular

One of the things that I hear all the time over here in NZ is the phrase 'Choice'. Which is used in a similar way to great or fantastic or awesome. For example, That party was choice! I can't ...
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What is origin of the word “fluent”?

We often hear people say he 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 or flow? ...
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Pure Applesauce: What does it mean and when/how was it created?

I could find out what jiggery–pokery means (dishonest or suspicious activity), but what does "pure applesauce" mean? And when, where, by whom, and how was this expression created? Context: ...
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1answer
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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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Why are there two pronunciations for “either”?

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with an individual who told me that pronouncing the word "either" is wrong when pronounced like \ˈī-thər\ instead of \ˈē-thər\ , but I didn't argue the point ...
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Where does this usage “and you” as in titles come from?

So I'm noticing there are some occurrences of a fixed usage of “and you,” mainly in titles of articles introducing something new or important to reader. It goes like “object inheritance, ...
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Why are the buttons on computer keyboards called “keys”?

A computer keyboard is a board of keys. Why are these buttons called keys? Is it related to the usage of piano "keys"?
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Usage of Disproven

How would you use disproven in a sentence please? Is disproven interchangeable with disproved?
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“… gets my goat”. What's my goat and why does it get it?

To get someone's goat is make them annoyed or irritated. But what is the goat and why does getting it annoy them? When and where does the phrase come from? What's the first known use?
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Etymology of “high” and “low” notes

The words "high" and "low" generally refer to magnitude or vertical distance. How did these words come to be associated with pitch? We can draw comparison to high ("large") or low ("small") ...
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History and meaning of the word “clientelist” as in “clientelist politics”

In relation to news reports about modern Greece I see the term "clientelist politics" which I assume to refer to some sort of corruption. In order to learn more I looked up clientelist in the OED only ...
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How did 'of' 's figurative meanings evolve from 'away, away from'?

of (prep.) [⇐] Old English of, unstressed form of æf (prep., adv.) "away, away from," [...], from PIE *apo- "off, away" (see apo-). Primary sense in Old English still was "away," but shifted in ...
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What is the meaning and etymology of the adjective “jammy”, of Yorkshire English?

What is the etymology of the adjective jammy? As in, Thou art a jammy bugger! I confess I've never seen the word before. When I looked it up, I found confusing etymologies: one source says it ...
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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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After verbs, how does 'from' compare with 'of'?

(TL;DR) 1. I've been plagued by the postverbal use of the preposition 'of'. After verbs, when describing attributes like origin or source, what are the differences between 'from' and 'of'? The verbs ...
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Describing People belonging to a Country [duplicate]

Initially, it seems like a Pattern of ending with n: People from India are Indians People from Rwanda are Rwandans People from Russia are Russians People from Nigeria are Nigerians People from Cuba ...
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Origin of My thing

When did the term "my thing" as in "that is my thing" come into usage?
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Who is the originator of the proverb, “be (not) worth the candle?

There is the following passage in Jeffery Archer’s fiction, “Be careful what you wish for”: “If Diego failed to turn up, Cedric had already decided that the game wouldn’t be worth the candle, to ...
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Etymology of “dutchman” to mean a carpentry patch?

The term dutchman is used to describe a repair patch used in carpentry. Various dictionaries define it along the lines of Something used to fill or cover a gap, especially a block of wood or ...
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Is there a term for words that are holdovers from an old technology that aren't apt for a new, superseding technology? [duplicate]

(Old title: Is there a word for: A new word for a new technology is simplified, and the resultant word well describes the old technology, but not the new.) The example I have in mind is "to ...
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Origin of “the wrong end of the stick”

If someone has the wrong end of the stick it means they've misunderstood something. If they've got the shitty end of the stick it means they've got a bad deal in some bargain or share-out. This ...
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1answer
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Is “lexophilia” a word?

I've been using the word "lexophilia" for years, but only just realized that it might not actually be in popular use at all. I've even had heated arguments with fellow pedants over the veracity of ...
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1answer
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What to call words with permanent prefix, but no unprefixed form? (ex: nonchalant, untoward) [duplicate]

What do you call prefixed words with no unprefixed counterpart? For example, there's no such thing as a "chalant person". Bad behavior may be "untoward", good behavior is never "toward". What are ...
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Origin of “If X, you are in the wrong place” [on hold]

The phrase "If [X], you are in the wrong place" seems to occur frequently enough in some circumstances (but not others) that it seems to be a specific phrase. If so, what's the origin of it? An ...
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Etymology behind “tim-” words involving honor and “tim-” words involving fear?

Words like timocracy (a form of government based on ambition for honor) and Timothy (honor to God) come from time, which means "honor" or "worth." According to Etymonline, timid (easily frightened) ...
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Why is the plural of “aircraft” not “aircrafts”?

I came along this sentence: Today, we have used a large number of assets, comprising of 34 aircraft, 40 ships, hundreds of men, thousands of man-hours has been deployed I consulted dictionaries ...
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Non standard english: Slang. “That sucks man.” [on hold]

Where does the term 'That sucks!' and putting 'man' on the end of sentences come from? "aw that sucks, man!" Thanks!
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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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“Jiggery-pokery” - Can Anyone Remedy this Paucity?

Reading U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent (p. 8) from the majority in King et al. v. Burwell, I encountered the following term (emphasis mine), “The Court’s next bit of ...
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Etymology of “embarrass”?

It would seem that the Random House dictionary and the World English dictionary have different ideas about the etymology of the word embarrass, neither of which make it particularly clear as to how it ...
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Expectaltee: A person who expects something

The word of the day: † expectaltee, n. Obs. rare. A person who expects something. [OED] You might ask how on the earth expectaltee is a word. Well, apparently it is a word but the origin is ...
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origin of “5 seconds flat”

Does anyone know the etymology of this expression? "He ran down the street in five seconds flat" I found this explanation of meaning at Wordreference but would like to know where the expression ...
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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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Why 'blood vessels' and not 'blood tubes'?

I have a silly question. The way I imagine arteries and veins are as tubes that arise from one part and carry blood to the other part. Why do we call them 'vessels' (which reminds us of cooking ...
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2answers
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'want' vs 'want for' vs 'want of'

[OED:] want {verb} = 1. a. intr. To be lacking or missing; not to exist; not to be forthcoming; to be deficient in quantity or degree. In early use const. with dative or to. rare since the 17th ...
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Origins of round in “round of applause”

A round of applause is a short period or burst of applause. What are the origins of the meaning of round in this phrase, and indeed the phrase itself? Are there any other phrases that use round in ...
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What is the origin of the word digicam? When and where did it originate?

Supposedly the word digicam (digital camera) originated in 1989 as a trade name in England, but I have not found any further information.
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SWF Seeks Strong Single-word Synonym

I’m a single female and lately all I do is work, work, work. Truth be told, I’m lonely and bored to tears. Desperate for relief, I decided to take out a classified advertisement but got stuck on the ...
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How, when and where did the phrase 'state of the art' originate? [duplicate]

Volume 4 of Charles Burney, A General History of Music, From the Earliest Ages to the Present Period (1776) contains this sentence: And while it [Rousseau's Lettre sur la Musique Françoise] was ...
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Any connection between “escheat” and “cheat”? [on hold]

According to Google, "Escheat is a common law doctrine which transfers the property of a person who dies without heirs to the crown or state. It serves to ensure that property is not left in "limbo" ...
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2answers
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What does “to-” in today, tomorrow, tonight mean?

As in the title. Does it mean anything? Does it mean the same thing in all of these words? What is its origin? Are there any other words with "to-"?
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If “propriety” is from the French for “property”, why is it now about proper comportment?

I was trying to reverse-translate a quote I mistakenly believed to be originally in French that I saw in English, so as to find the source. (It turned out to be from Jeremy Bentham.) In the process, I ...
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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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Were the words “woman” and “female” produced after the words “man” and “male”? [closed]

Man and woman, male and female have the same phonetic element and root (man, and male) in English, while man and woman in both Japanese and Chinese language - Otoko (男) and Onnna (女) in Japanese, Nan ...
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Where did the word 'and' come from? [closed]

Where does the word "and" come from? What are its roots?
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Origins and meaning of “Put your money where your mouth is”

I heard this phrase uttered by a Canadian (from Vancouver) once; it left me in awe and elicited my curiosity. Wikipedia was not helpful. What is its origin? Is this expression used more in certain ...
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What is the etymology of “fanboi”?

In a recent Daring Fireball post, John Gruber wondered about the origin of "fanboi" as a spelling of "fanboy". I tried searching for this, but couldn't find anything definitive. Harry McCracken has ...
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How are the words 'Suburb' and 'Superb' related to 'Superbas'?

All are Latin, or I guess come from Latin, but is it a direct shot to say that whenever Suburbs first became recognized and named, that they were given the status of being Superb? At one point was ...
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Cute as a button

Since buttons aren't particularly cute (IMO), where did this common phrase come from? I know it's old; I've seen it in 19th century literature.