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

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What is the origin of the phrase, “I'm Game”

I'm trying to understand the origins of the phrase, "I'm game". Now, I understand how the phrase is used in everyday English, but what are the origins of this phrase? How did it come to imply a ...
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61 views

Definition of a person who “knows not he knows not.”

Is there a word for someone who wants to appear learned or knowledgeable but has no clue he isn't?
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195 views

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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64 views

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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168 views

What's the meaning of “as your concern allows”

Keep in touch as your concerns allow. This sentence was preceded by the sentence "We seem to be out of sync in reading each other's mind."
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1answer
130 views

Term for a word with opposite meaning to its root?

I remember coming across a term for a word which has an opposite (or at least very different) meaning from its etymological root word's meaning, does anyone know what this term is?
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1answer
96 views

“Sport” vs “Sports” Origin

I was recently reading this article on the use of "math" vs. "maths" as a collective noun (Americans use the former, Brits the latter). However, the trend seen in "math/maths" is reversed in ...
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62 views

The relationship between negative numbers and moral negatives

What is the origin of the analogy between numbers less than zero and bad things? This question just occurred to me. I have been using this analogy without thinking about its history.
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1answer
41 views

How does 'such as' mean 'of a kind that; like'?

Since elementary school, I've known definition 1 (the most common) of such as = for example. Yet 2 confuses me, so what's an intuitive derivation or etymology behind it? 2. such as = Of a kind ...
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86 views

to bar vs to debar

1. These words seem to mean the same, so what does the de- prefix mean? Did I overlook any nuances? 2. What's this phenomenon called, when a prefix or suffix affects nothing? Etymonline: 15c., ...
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1answer
87 views

When do Americans began to use practice instead of practise?

I am writing an historical novel, and I try to make my characters speaking and writing as everybody did at the time. But I don't know when we began to use "practice" as a verb instead of "practise". ...
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264 views

Where did the phrase You “have a really punchable face” originate?

MS Paint Adventures references this phrase on this page in homestuck: http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6&p=002224 I also distinctly remember hearing the same phrase in one of the three first ...
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On the origin of 'blizzard '.

Blizzard is probably the most used word to indicate a violent snowstorm. Despite its popularity the etymology of the term is quite unclear. Some well-known sources hint at its onomatopoeic sound as ...
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154 views

The antonym of Schadenfreude is “fribbly” - the joy in other people's joy. What is the origin of this new meaning?

For many years the word fribbly has been used, in various communities as the antonym of Schadenfreude. Rather than harm-joy or "pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others". Fribbly is "Joy-Joy" ...
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15 views

Why is Greece not called in English by the name Hellas?

The Greeks call their country Hellas and themselves Hellenes. The names Greece and Greek are of Roman origin and were adopted from Latin Graecus into old High German as Crêch and then in all ...
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Looking for the source of “SJO” or “South Jersey Original”?

Looking for source of "SJO" or "South Jersey Original" used to describe a person from Southern New Jersey whose behavior (usually idiosyncratic) is startling or otherwise worthy of note.
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57 views

How did the adjective “just” come to take on so many adverbial meanings?

Just is a pretty useful adverb. It can carry several different meanings: very recently: I just finished the novel. exactly: That’s just what he meant. by a narrow margin: He just missed me ...
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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 ...
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Why was the word “alluring” much more used in the 1920 than in the 1870 or the 1980?

As per title. This is the Ngram Graph for the word alluring: For comparison, this is the same graph for the word remarkable:
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How did “to derogate” evolve into 3 different definitions?

What are intuitive derivations behind the 3 (disparate) definitions? 1. derogate from = [no object] Detract from 2. derogate from = [no object] Deviate from 3. [with object] Disparage (someone ...
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47 views

How to analyse/parse 'come what may'?

I already understand and so ask NOT about the definition, which I instead want to burrow into: come what may = No matter what happens Is this a case of anastrophe? Then come what may <= what ...
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39 views

How does 'be' + 'of' combine to mean 'possess; give rise to'?

I already understand and thus ask NOT about the definition, but instead want to dredge below it: to be of = Possess intrinsically; give rise to How does the juxtaposition of these two 'Top 1000 ...
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66 views

When/where/why did “Look who it ain't/isn't” appear?

It seems to me that... "Well! Look who it ain't!" ...is/was normally used quite dismissively, referring to a newly-arrived person of low social status, who the speaker would often then proceed ...
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350 views

What is the origin of “over index”?

I often encounter (and use) this phrase in a context meaning to weight more heavily during decision making than is sensible, or to focus more heavily during a discussion than is warranted. For ...
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30 views

How did 'resent' evolve to connote negativity?

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition that helps to remember its meaning? to resent = Feel bitterness or indignation at (a circumstance, action, or person): Etymonline: ...
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41 views

How did 'circumscribe' evolve to mean 'Restrict (something) within limits'?

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition 1 that helps to remember its meaning: 1. circumscribe = Restrict (something) within limits: Etymonline: late 14c., from Latin ...
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40 views

Contrator, contractee… and disease?

On my security card at work is written "Contractor" in big, bold, capital letters. A thought just crossed my mind (as I work for a medical company): If I am the contractor, am I the one passing the ...
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Etymology for “oh so beautiful”

I was writing a creative piece, and unbeknownst to me, I used this phase "oh so beautiful". It fitted my description and it "felt" right, so to speak. I am just not sure were I have heard it or better ...