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

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Is there a categorization of different kinds of words like loanwords, compound words, slang… etc?

Is there a categorization of different types of words in which the following categories would fall for example: loanwords, compound-words, slang words, ...? Is there a hierarchical parent of these ...
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Origin of Jessie

What's the origin of the name Jessie referring to an effeminate, weak, or cowardly boy or man. Since English is a gender neutral language, it strikes me as curious to see the female name Jessie ...
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Take this question with a grain of salt

Where did this ubiquitous phrase come from? Usually it is used in conjunction with either disputable of downright dubious information but I can't think of how salt helps the situation. The only thing ...
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Why do the French say “dent” where the English say "tooth? [on hold]

I am preparing for an exam in "Earlier Englishes" and I have following question out of a mock exam: Why do the French say dent where the English say tooth? The answer gives 3 points, so may be there ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “bullet points”?

In particular, was the expression coined by a single individual or is it attributed to a document? The only thing I've been able to find was a non-cited reference to its origins in the 19th century ...
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Etymology of “history” and why the “hi-” prefix?

According to Etymonline, history comes from the same root as story. If they are from the same word, where does hi- come from? Is it just because of the English habit of taking names from other ...
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What is the origin of “Boxing Day”?

OED gives the definition and a quote from 1833 as the earliest reference as below: The first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of ...
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Nannicock - a young woman, a fool or something else?

What definition(s) are there for the word Nannicock and what it's the etymology for each definition. (I've checked OED already). I came across Nannicock recently and on looking it up in OED their ...
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Origin of ZZZzzz [duplicate]

How did ZZZzzz in texting, in comic strips, or online come to mean sleeping or something boring? What's the connection between the repeated letter Z and sleep? And when did it start to be used?
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108 views

Why does English have a word for pink? [on hold]

We have a word for light red (pink), but not light blue. Why is this? Russian, for example, has specific words for light and dark blue.
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Where does “Santa” in Santa Claus come from?

Santa Claus is a man, right? In this case, he may not be fine with the fact that people call him Santa, which is the Spanish and Portuguese word for female saint names. For example, Santa Barbara and ...
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What’s a “handegg”?

What’s a handegg? NOTE: This question is primarily related to the etymology of a compound noun which is not in The Dictionary. There is a hat this year called “Handegg”, given out for a posting that ...
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’Tis the season

Google has a new doodle that says ’Tis the season when you put your cursor on it: What is the origin of this usage? or even the contraction ’tis? Details: There is a popular carol called “Deck ...
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Why “hoist” in “Hoist with one's own petard”?

He was hoist with his own petard is one of my father's favorite phrases. As a child I had developed a vague understanding of the idiom in which petard was a kind of flag, which is why it was hoist, ...
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How do you get from the literal meaning of “all bets are off” to the idiom?

Most everyone knows what the common turn of phrase all bets are off means: "anything can happen." But all idioms have to start from somewhere, and the question I'm wondering is how did this one start. ...
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Terms for collections of animals

As I watched the murder of crows sitting on the line above my house this evening, I got wondering where all of the collective nouns for animals (pod of whales, gaggle of geese, pride of lions) came ...
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How does 'to partake of' develop to mean 'be characterized by'?

What's an intuitive derivation behind definition 3, that helps to internalise its meaning: 3. partake of = Be characterized by (a quality) [ODO] 1. How does the etymology (listed in that ...
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“all the virtues in the calendar”

Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "all the virtues in the calendar"? Doing a phrase search (with quotes) gives many example usages. Questions: 1. Is there an actual calendar of virtues ...
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So which “wich'” is it? [on hold]

It's generally not confusing to most the obvious differences between a sandwich, a witch and the word "which", but are they related in any way? While a sandwich can be defined jokingly as,"in my ...
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Origin and meaning of “The eagle flies at midnight”

The eagle flies at midnight. What's the origin and meaning of this idiom?
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How does 'notwithstanding' mean 'in spite of'?

notwithstanding = [preposition] In spite of [adverb] = Nevertheless; in spite of this: Etymonline: late 14c., notwiþstondynge, from not + present participle of the verb withstand. A ...
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How did “party” come to mean “gathering”?

Is it just related to the fact that people participate in it? UPDATE. Judging by the comments, dictionary articles are absolutely exhaustive, and it just must be obvious to everyone how 'to take the ...
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Sultanas and raisins, I'm confused

Most Christmas pudding recipes call for both sultanas and raisins. It is my understanding that a raisin refers to any dried grape. A sultana is both the name of a seedless grape, originating from ...
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Why is the action of removing a digital file named “Delete”?

After reading these questions: Difference between "delete" and "remove" How much use did the word 'delete' get before the technological boom? Delete or Remove (ell.SE) ...
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Origin of phrase “pulling for you”

When somebody is going through a difficult life situation, people will commonly say, "We're pulling for you." Where did this term come from? It sounds rather strange!
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Where does “on one's last legs” come from?

To be on one's last legs means to be worn out, tired, run down, and ready to die or otherwise cease working. Some examples I've found are Grandfather is on his last legs. He'll be on his way to ...
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Etymology of legal meaning of 'dispositive'

Since Prof. Eugene Volokh has observed its counterintuitiveness, what's an intuitive derivation? Prof. Eugene Volokh: One way of remembering this is by looking at the stem, which turns out to be ...
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What does 'spite' mean in 'in spite of'?

in spite of = 1. Without being affected by the particular factor mentioned [From the same page as above:] spite = [mass noun] 1. A desire to hurt, annoy, or offend someone I ...
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Is “denigrate” a racist word? [duplicate]

A few years ago I was told not to use that word because, in addition to its negative meaning, it comes from Latin denigratus, past participle of denigrare, which means to blacken. Therefore, "to ...
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A frog in the throat

While the French refer to the temporary hoarseness caused by phlegm in the back of the throat as having a cat in the throat, the English version of the expression is to have a frog in the throat. I ...
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How did the term “X's finest” come to mean the police force of a city X?

I have often come across terms like London's finest, New York's finest, etc., intended to mean the police forces of the respective cities. I think in the case of Scotland Yard, the term even has some ...
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“Chief Cook and Bottle Washer” meaning and etymology

In my experience, referring to someone in an organization as "chief cook and bottle washer" has multiple possible meanings: person has a wide variety of duties in the organization person is very, ...
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What is the origin of 'bird'

Bird: (Brit.) a girl or young woman, esp one's girlfriend (Collins Dict. ) According to Etymonline, bird: "maiden, young girl," c.1300, confused with burd (q.v.), but felt by ...
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“Iterate” vs. “Reiterate”

Definition of iterate: to say or do again or again and again Definition of reiterate: to state or do over again or repeatedly sometimes with wearying effect The distinction seems to be ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “pinky promise”?

A pinky promise (or "pinky swear") is a gesture in which two parties interlock little fingers in a symbolic gesture of agreement. What is the origin of this phrase? One possibility, and probably the ...
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Etymology of “queue” from “cue” [migrated]

Queue has such a strange spelling (80% of it is vowels!) that I wanted to see where the word came from. I searched for its origin at Etymonline.com, which had this to say: queue (n.): late 15c., ...
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What is the origin of ZOMG?

I have looked in a number of places, with contradicting results. The Urban Dictionary provides a whopping 73 "explanations", of which I will quote just a few. (Original spelling and punctuation ...
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History and usage of “dooryard”

I have been interested in the expression "dooryard stop" recently. This is an expression that is used to describe a short visit in someone's dooryard (driveway) that often means not staying long ...
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Is using “all” instead of “all used up” a regional thing?

My inlaws from Central Pennsylvania will say, "The milk is all" instead of "The milk is all gone". Another very common example, "Can you bring me some cookies?" "Sorry, the cookies are all". Anyone ...
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Idiom: in my neck of the woods, AmE

Idiom: in my neck of the woods (AmE) The meaning of this expression is: in the region where I live. I once tried to find out how a word that referred to a part of the body could later develop into ...
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What is the origin of “Kris Kringle”?

In Canada, we use the term "Kris Kringle" for gift exchange tradition in Christmas. It is also spelled as "Kriss Kringle". In US and UK, it is called Secret Santa. Wikipedia says "Secret Santa" is ...
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Where “summat” came from

In Scottish English, I know that the word summat is used in place of standard something. But what's the etymology of this pronoun? It seems unlikely to me that summat could be merely a variant ...
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When was “emoji” first used?

Emoji is a small digital image or icon used in electronic communication. It is also mentioned as a standardized emoticon (emotion + icon) but emojis are usually depicted as pictographs and emoticons ...
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Where does the response “Anytime” come from? [closed]

When someone says "Thank you" whenever I have helped them out, I naturally respond with "Anytime". I recently started thinking about this and couldn't quite figure out where this word originates from. ...
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Why is it “geometric” but “theoretical”?

I just came across a course name: Geometric and Theoretical Optics. The mismatched endings bug me. Why do we have both -ical and -ic endings? Is there any difference in meaning between, say, ...
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Origin of “washing up”

Where does the phrase "to wash up" (equally "to clean up") originate from? Particularly the word "up", how did that enter the phrase?
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Why can something be “touch and go”?

When a situation is risky or one isn't sure whether things are going to be OK, one might say that a situation is "touch and go". What is the origin of this phrase?
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Who originated “Merry Christmas”?

The first reference I can find in the OED to "Merry Christmas" is from 1534. This date very roughly corresponds with the English Reformation and Henry VIII's breach with Rome. From that time the ...