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

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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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How did 'equity' evolve to mean 'common shares'?

[OED:] 5c. (See quot. 1966.) orig. U.S. 1966    A. Gilpin   Dict. Econ. Terms (1967)   72 Equities, the ordinary shares of a limited company. They carry the right to the residue of a company's ...
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Can foreign words be reduced into English morphemes?

In class today, during an activity when we were given the task of breaking down a list of words into morphemes, I had a disagreement with a professor who tried to convince me that the word ...
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When and why do you call it a sister-site?

Usually some sites are referenced as sister-sites by others, Why are they called sister-sites? And what relation should both sites have to call each other sister-sites? Same authors? Same owners? In ...
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Why “half past” and not “half to”?

When telling time and 30 minutes has gone past an hour, we say “half past”. For instance, half past 4 or half past 5. Why can’t we also say “half to”. For instance, half to 5 or half to 6? Shouldn’t ...
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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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What is the difference in meaning between 'nonchalant' and 'insouciant'?

OED defines them as: nonchalant adjective (of a person or manner) feeling or appearing casually calm and relaxed; not displaying anxiety, interest, or enthusiasm insouciant adjective showing ...
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When did initial-origin words (PRONOUNCED AS WORDS) start happening?

Someone was just asking if there were words like lol formed, before, the txtmsg era. Of course there were - for example "laser". However .. in fact what was the earliest example of this in English? ...
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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 “let us” and “let's”

The verb let means “allow”, “permit”, “not prevent or forbid”, “pass, go or come” and it's used with an object and the bare infinitive. Are you going to let me drive or not? Don't let ...
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Etymology ultra orthodox

What is the origin of the term ultra-orthodox in regard to religious Jews? I have not been able to locate it anywhere.
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For ‘such as’, why was ‘as’ used and not ‘that’?

such (adj.) c. 1200, Old English swylc, swilc "just as, as, in like manner; as if, as though; such a one, he" (pronoun and adjective), from a Proto-Germanic compound * swalikaz "so formed" ...
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Shirty birty (bertie)?

I’ve been enjoying the BBC TV series Last Tango in Halifax, a show which regularly sends me to the dictionary in order to decipher certain inscrutable British-isms, the latest being “don’t get all ...
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Why isn’t “lutherie” spelled “luthery”?

It seems to me that most English words similar to lutherie (crafting stringed instruments) end in ‑y. That is, nouns for professions or activities that are used instead of gerunds with objects. ...
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Etymology of “magma” in abstract algebra

Magma is one of those beautiful words of Greek origin (μάγμα) that arouses the child and the wild in me, making me think of volcanoes. I just found out, though, that it is also used in mathematics to ...
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Resources for native Anglo-Saxon vocabulary building.

Are there any dictionaries or thesaurus' out there that specialize in native English vocabulary, that is to say, real English words that are not of foreign (Latin, French, or Greek) origin? It's ...
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What is the oldest common English word?

I'm trying to formalize What is the oldest still-in-use English word? which was closed as vague. Consider the "age" of a word to be the length of time since it was first used with the (more-or-less) ...
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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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Origin of “happy camper”

How did happy camper and not a happy camper originate? I have been unable to find a definitive source for this phrase.
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“See you in the funny papers”: etymology and meaning

I've heard people saying that "See you in the funny papers" means "I'll see you later," as in "Good Bye," but I always thought that it means "Good bye," as in "I'll never see you again." I thought ...
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Where does “beat around the bush” come from?

Where does the expression "beat around the bush" come from?
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Does anyone happen to know more about the word “zoot” and this use of speech called “nonsense reduplication?”

I am curious about the word "zoot" in "zoot suit." I have not done extensive research on the word, but the cursory search I conducted yielded so little and was so duplicative that I didn't bother ...
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When did people start “boinking”?

Is "boinking" an onomatopoeic and/or a blend word? I would have said so, I believe the word boink refers to the sound of the mattress springs squeaking under the weight of a couple making love. A ...
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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 ...
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I didn't come here for an argument

Is there any consensus on how the word for a heated discussion (which apparently comes from the same root as Silver/Argent) also came to mean a parameter passed to a function? Edit: ...
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Etymology of “the fix is in”

The common phrase “the fix is in” means that the outcome of an event or process has been covertly manipulated to ensure a result that would otherwise be determined by chance or a fair test of some ...
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Is there any relationship between the “theo” in “theoretical” and that in “theology”?

The title is rather self-explanatory, but the notion that "theory" has some etymological connection, remote or intentional, to concepts of God i.e. "theology", is intriguing to me. If they're ...
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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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What are the origins of gully and googly in cricket?

The OED supplies no clue to the origin of either gully or googly. It does not in fact mention etymology of the cricket sense of gully, which has led me to infer that it is from the ordinary meaning of ...
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What is the origin of “Best.Boyfriend.Ever”? [duplicate]

Best. Boyfriend. Ever. I think that was the first of the type, now it's a commonplace. Some deep thinker in the copywriting department at StackOverflow just did it, What can I say but :/ omg ...
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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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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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Sinister allusions [closed]

I find it fascinating that 95% of the people I ask have no idea what to drink the kool aid is actually referring to (the tragedy at Jonestown). Can y'all think of any other fun words or phrases ...
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Antonym of all: none, not all, both?

If you ask someone what the opposite of "all" was, most times the answer will be "none", such as the example of "no one" is the opposite of "everyone". There are three antonyms for "all" on ...
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Where did the term 'moral fiber' come from?

I was reading a novel that used the term moral fiber - defined as strength of character - the other day and it occurred to me that it was a somewhat strange conjunction of terms. It sort of conjured ...
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What is the origin of “on the way”?

Consider "on the way." (As in "are you coming home?" "we're on the way.") Is the origin from something relating to "way" meaning a lane or roadway, or, is the origin something relating to the ...
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Is there such a word as 'efficious'? [closed]

Is there such a word as 'efficious' - meaning: inefficient in a snarky way.,? My mother used this word(?) when someone who did not know what was what tried to rudely 'educate' someone while acting ...
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Do Americans use the term “garburator” or is there a better equivalent?

Is it obsolete to use the term garburator to refer to a garbage disposal unit in a kitchen? If it is, do we have a better term to replace it with? Also, what is the etymology of this word?
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Cross Origins of Comrade and Camaraderie

If "Comrade" and "camaraderie" are from Spanish and French, why did the Russians and particularly Soviets (and later the Chinese and South Africans), come to adopt Comrade for usage? Also, does ...
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Do these river names mean anything?

I was planning a little trip the other day when I noticed that a number of rivers in Britain have common names. The ones I spotted were Avon, Ouse and Esk. Is there a reason for this? Are these names ...
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What term describes words like “scapegoat”?

I have heard that there is a term for words like scapegoat, i.e. words that are translated directly from another language into English, but do not make literal sense out of their original ...
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What line do they refer to in the idiomatic expression “on the line”?

The idiomatic expression on the line has two main meanings according to the American Heritage Dictionary: Ready or available for immediate payment. (A related expression is Cash on the ...
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Is “Peeping Tom” unique in that is has history?

I had discovered that the term "Peeping Tom" comes from the story of Lady Godiva as being the only person who dared look at her as she rode naked through the streets. I then tried to find other words ...
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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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19th century English texts occasionally use Germanic-style number words, such as “four-and-twenty”. When did this fall out of use?

19th century English texts occasionally use Germanic-style number words, such as "four-and-twenty", but the same text would also have the modern "twenty-four" in places (see e.g. Conan-Doyle for ...
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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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Meaning and origin of “hustle, score, use”

In a movie about drug addiction they used this combination of words: hustle, score, use They said it was always the same pattern - but what does it mean and where does it come from?
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Trapezium/trapezoid — why are the US/UK definitions swapped around?

These are the US definitions... Trapezoid — a 4-sided flat shape with straight sides that has a pair of opposite sides parallel. Trapezium — a 4-sided flat shape with straight sides and NO parallel ...
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Origin of the term “fat chance”

The phrase "fat chance" can be used as a way of sarcastically describing the impossibility of something, but where did it originate from? I've googled it several times, and it always comes up with the ...