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

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Classification: usage in the marine community

I recently heard "classification society" in a conversation - I thought it's an organization that classify or sort things somehow. My friend later explained a classification society is actually a ...
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How did 'how' + 'ever' = 'however' ⟹ 'but'?

[ OED: ] Etymology: < how adv. + ever adv. 8e. Qualifying a sentence or clause as a whole: For all that, nevertheless, notwithstanding; yet; = but at the beginning of the sentence. ...
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How does one determine when a comedian is also a humorist?

Wikipedia's list of humorists are categorised as people who write or perform humorous material, but the article also states: A humorist is usually distinct from a stand-up comedian. Woody Allen ...
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where did the phrase “I'll get back to you” originate?

Can't find any info on the origin of the idiom or phrase "I'll get back to you on that".
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Origin and evolution of the term 'amen corner'

Geneva Smitherman, Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner (1994) provides this entry for the term "amen corner": AMEN CORNER 1) In the Traditional Black Church (TBC), ...
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Etymology of “Run of Text”?

This is somewhat of a stackoverflow cross-over. In WPF programming, there is something called a Run. It is "intended to contain a run of formatted or unformatted text". Is "run of text" a phrase that ...
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How did 'of' come to take on so many meanings?

TL/DR: How did of (a Function Word) spawn such diverse meanings, too numerous to list here? Optional Reading and Supplement: [OED:] The primary sense was ‘away’, ‘away from’, a sense now ...
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143 views

“Para” and “Paras” vs “Paragraph” and “Paragraphs”

I find people using "para" for "paragraph" and "paras" for "paragraphs", even in formal English. See the example sentence: In para 2 of the plaint, the plaintiff has stated that he is entitled ...
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A word that means/defines to live a philosophical life[style]?

So this is a continuation of sorts to a thread I started a while ago about *a word that means/defines The Converse of Philosophy... * The question is... If the etymology of bio- is [Greek bio-, ...
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How are Old English participles declined to English participles? (both present and past)

I'm trying to learn about differences between English and Old English, and I found that there are some noticeable differences in the use of participle markings. I think that participles were declined ...
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On the right track -> to distract

It sounds that distracting and being on the right track are related not only by meaning but also by common roots. Is the track that we see in distracting related etymologically to the track in the ...
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Is staubert a slang term for stylish? And what is its origin?

A listener to Words to the Wise [audio at wtcmradio.com] shared that his family used the word staubert to describe something stylish, such as a new suit. I speculate that it is derived from the ...
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“Came at [XYZ] life” origin?

What's the origin/etymology of "[ABC] came at [XYZ] life?" The definition according to Urban Dictionary is A phrase that is used in past tense to describe a situation in which another person ...
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How did 'so' mean 'so that'?

so, adv. and conj. = 24. so .. that [=] in such a way, to such an extent, that 25. a. With omission of that, = sense 24. 26. a. so (that) , in limiting sense: On condition that, provided that, ...
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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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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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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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Origin of “sitting there like Lord Fermoy”

What is the origin of sitting there like Lord Fermoy? This had been a stock phrase in our family.
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Did 'inter-' evolve to mean 'together'?

entertain (v.) (<--) late 15c., "to keep up, maintain, to keep (someone) in a certain frame of mind," from Middle French entretenir, from Old French entretenir "hold together, stick ...
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Why is 'X notwithstanding' more correct than 'notwithstanding X'?

Source: p 575, Garner's Modern American Usage (3 ed; 2009), by Bryan Garner: notwithstanding is a FORMAL WORD, used in the sense "despite," "in spite of," or "although." E.g., "Notwithstanding an ...
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Why are these spellings pronounced “non phonetically?”

In Anglo English, the word ewe (female sheep) is pronounced "you," rather than, say, "e-weh." Likewise, the surname Ewell, is pronounced "yule," rather than "e-well." Why is that?
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How did 'deign' upend its meaning from 'worthy' to 'condescend'?

I was researching the etymology of disdain which rechannels to the following: [ Etymonline for 'deign (v.)' ] c. 1300, from Old French deignier (Modern French daigner), from Latin dignari "to deem ...
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'plight' (as 'predicament'): How did 'to fold' evolve to mean a predicament?

Of the two dichotomous noun homonyms 'pledge', below I ask only about that derived from Latin. For the homonym derived from Proto-Germanic , please see this. [Etymonline for 'plight (n.1)' ] ...
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Derivatives of “ea” in the sense of “river”?

"Ea" is a largely archaic word still used in some dialects to mean a river or watercourse. The Online Etymology Dictionary mentions "ealand" as a term formerly used to mean a watery place or meadow ...
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'exert' : How can you 'attach or join out' something?

Etymonline for: 'exert (adj.)' = 1660s, "thrust forth, push out," from Latin exertus/exsertus, past participle of exerere/exserere "thrust out, put forth," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + serere ...
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How did 'legacy' evolve from 'contract, law'?

I was researching legacy {noun} which rechannels to legate {noun}: legacy (n.)   late 14c., "body of persons sent on a mission," from Old French legatie "legate's office," from Medieval ...
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Etymology: 'to commit'

I was researching the etymology of 'commission {noun}' which just diverts you to: commit (v.) late 14c., "to give in charge, entrust," from Latin committere "to unite, connect, combine; to ...
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How did 'to hint to, remind privately' mean 'to summon'?

[Etymonline:] summon (v.) c. 1200, "call, send for, ask the presence of," especially "call, cite, or notify by authority to be at a certain place at a certain time" (late 13c.), ... from Vulgar ...
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How did 'purchase' evolve to mean 'firm contact or grip'?

[1] purchase = 2. [mass noun] Firm contact or grip I've been trying to understand how the noun purchase evolved to mean definition 2 above. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. I tried OED but it's ...
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How to identify if a word is positive, negative, or neutral?

I am studying for SAT and English is not my first language. I really struggle with vocabulary. I memorized about 1000 words for the test, but only a few showed up on the test. I am planning on taking ...
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Does 'fever' share an etymology with 'fervent, fervid, or fervour'?

The ODO entry for 'fervent' recommends to: Compare with fervid and fervour. I did read Etymonline's entry for 'fever' which doesn't explicitly answer this, but I think that I'd need to know ...
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'mawkish' : What's 'exaggerated or false' about maggots?

mawkish {adjective} = Sentimental in an exaggerated or false way [Etymonline:] 1660s, "sickly, nauseated," from Middle English mawke "maggot" (see maggot). Sense of "sickly sentimental" is ...
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How did 'to purport' evolve to connote negativity?

I already understand and so ask NOT about the definition, below which I want to burrow. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. Please beware that I replicate the noun(al) etymology from Etymonline, and not ...
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How to rationalise the legal definition of 'to procure'?

How can I resolve the contradictions below? What's the right derivation? I already understand and so ask NOT about the definition, below which I want to burrow. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. ...
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Origin of “kill the ghost”, “killing the ghost”

A British friend of mine who used to work with us came back from London for a short visit to the town.Before going back home again he showed me photographs of the town beach and hotel saying he came ...
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Why are some football clubs known as Wanderers?

Why are Bolton Wanderers, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wycombe Wanderers etc so known? The OED seems to be silent on the matter, so I searched elsewhere on line. The following answer came up. Does it ...
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Why is “all . . . not” apparently more common than “not all ”?

For example, All that glitters is not gold is sort of a fixed term, and people often use the same “all . . . not” form when talking about things. See also the question “Is it wrong to use ‘not’ in ...
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Is a syllable defined phonetically or etymologically?

Reading recent postings about syllables I've been struck and baffled by talk of the possibility that words may have a different number of syllables when they are written than when they are spoken. Is ...
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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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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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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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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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Word that Resembles The Dutch Word Kudde

Kudde, Couth, is there an english farmers word that resembles Kudde. Kudde means herd, flock, fold, drove, livestock, and bevy. So I'm looking for a word that means something along the lines of ...
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What does this expression mean: Don't let him consign me to the rafters

Some once told me about someone else: "please don't let him consign me to the rafters, because he is one of those irrevocable keepsakes"
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What is the origin of “The lights are on, but nobody's home”?

I hear this one occasionally. Also, the title of Gerald M Weinberg's book "Are Your Lights On?"
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Origin of going “number 1” or “number 2” in the bathroom

I was wondering about the origin of using the terms "number one" and "number two" for going to the bathroom (for those unaware, number one is urinate, number two is defecate, at least in the US). I ...
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Is there a word to describe someone/something that is given a title prematurely?

For example a coal refered to as a diamond when it hasn't been transformed into one.
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Is there a word to describe the act of suddenly halting by virtue of feeling shy or intimidated?

I'm looking for a word that can fit into this sentence, "She paused with timid caution and then resumed her lope as if led by the dangling of her small interlaced hands, a magnetic sweeping of the ...
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Hashtag vs hash/tag

Recently, I was listening to a person state "I know X has happened because I wrote the code for it". I wanted to call them out for citation in the vein of pics or it didn't happen. Since I was asking ...
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boeuf (Fr. slang for “big theatre hit”) = boffo?

Reading my French slang dictionary I see that a big hit (as for a movie) is a "boeuf" and being an ardent reader of Terry Pratchett where "boffo" is often used as something like "glitz" but also can ...