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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

2
votes
0answers
26 views

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. ...
2
votes
0answers
52 views

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:
1
vote
0answers
24 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
45 views

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, ...
1
vote
0answers
43 views

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.) [...] [⟸] ...
1
vote
0answers
47 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
70 views

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.
1
vote
0answers
37 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
24 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
86 views

Spelling etymology of “-il[l]” words

I've noticed that modern English seems to have a very strong bias to spell verbs which end with "-(consonant)-il" with double "l", i.e. "-ill". The overwhelming majority of such verbs (like to will, ...
1
vote
0answers
85 views

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?
1
vote
0answers
27 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
43 views

'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)' ] ...
1
vote
0answers
42 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
30 views

'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 ...
1
vote
0answers
52 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
45 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
27 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
64 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
357 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
59 views

How did the spelling of 'mien' evolve?

I ask only about mien's definition of 'A person’s look or manner', and not the Yao people. OED: Etymology: Probably a merging of two words of distinct origins: (i) shortened < demean n.; ...
1
vote
0answers
65 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
83 views

'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 ...
1
vote
0answers
25 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
64 views

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. ...
1
vote
0answers
88 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
142 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
63 views

Why do we 'return' a member to parliament?

OED sense 12b, of the verb to return deals with the matter of returning a member, at one time by the sheriff, nowadays by a returning officer. It is is part of the wider paragraph 12 meaning headed ...
1
vote
0answers
60 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
140 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
84 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
1k 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
45 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: ...
1
vote
0answers
215 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" ...
0
votes
0answers
32 views

'lest': How did 'less that' evolve to mean 'for fear that'?

lest, conj. = [OED] Etymology: Old English phrase þý lǽs þe , lit. ‘whereby less’ = Latin quōminus (þý instrumental of the demonstrative and relative pronoun + lǽs less adj. + þe ...
0
votes
0answers
75 views

How did 'without' evolve to mean 'unless'?

[2.] without (adv., prep.) [<--] Old English wiðutan "outside of, from outside," literally "against the outside" (opposite of within), see with + out (adv.). [...] without = ...
0
votes
0answers
41 views

What is special about Anglo-French legal usage of [the] infinitive as a noun?

I was reading the etymology of attainder (n.), when I saw its reference to: use of French infinitives as nouns, especially in legal language, see waiver. waiver (n.) [<--] [...] Other ...
0
votes
0answers
39 views

How did 'of' originate in 'to conceive of'?

[OED:] [8.] d. intr. to conceive of : To form or have a conception of, think of, imagine. I'm trying to compare 'to conceive' with (the prepositional verb) 'to conceive of'. To me, both appear to ...
0
votes
0answers
47 views

Origin of the phrase “because of course it does”

I've been hearing "because of course it/he/she does" a lot recently. I'm assuming this is internet-speak, but maybe it's older? Grateful to anyone who can help pinpoint its origin.
0
votes
0answers
29 views

Etymology of 'to distrain'

[ODO:] {verb} [with object] {Law} 1. Seize (someone’s property) in order to obtain payment of rent or other money owed [Etymology:] Middle English: from Old French destreindre, from Latin ...
0
votes
0answers
32 views

How is 'notwithstanding' governed by some preposition that is the 'subject of the verb'?

Source: p 993 of the book itself (but p 497 of the online viewer with the scroller at the bottom), An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, volume 2 (1921), by Ernest Weekley: ...
0
votes
0answers
33 views

How can a verb like “jag” symbolise sudden movement or unevenness?

[ODO:] jag Origin [=] Late Middle English (in the sense 'stab, pierce'): perhaps symbolic of sudden movement or unevenness (compare with jam1 and rag1). How can any verb, let alone jag, ...
0
votes
0answers
54 views

Polarly opposite connotations of 'head'?

Such aphorisms as 'Think With Your Head, Not Your Heart' connote positivity of the noun 'head', but such English words as heady and testy connote negativity. So why this clash and polarity of ...
0
votes
0answers
21 views

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.
0
votes
0answers
48 views

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 ...
0
votes
0answers
63 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
175 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
77 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
58 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 ...
-1
votes
0answers
30 views

How did 'that' mean 'so that'?

that, conj. = [4.] b. Simply, without antecedent: = so that. arch. Per OED, the above meaning equates that to so that, an equalisation used by masterly writers (ranging from c1175 to 1868) like: ...