8
votes
3answers
114 views

Does etymology have a word like cladistics?

A recent question on EL&U about a current hip-hop expression led my research into a meme that is evolving faster than drosophila. This expression and its variants have gone viral on internet ...
3
votes
3answers
176 views

Etymology of English “Achoo” relative to other sneezing onomatopoeiae

So I was recently curious about the sound that people sneeze with in other languages and was surprised to notice the difference between the English onomatopoetic word "Achoo" and that of other ...
2
votes
1answer
134 views

The origin word “English”? Language that dominated the beginning of English existence? [closed]

I've read so many questions in ELL on the origin of English words. But I've never found the origin of the word English itself. I'm also curious about the history of English as a language. I mean, in ...
9
votes
2answers
998 views

Phrasal verb “be a thing”

I’m looking for the origin of the phrasal verb “to be a thing”. It means roughly “exist” or more specifically “be recognised” or “be a phenomenon”. I first noticed it around 2008–2009. Is ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the origin of “uh”, “um”, “erm” and “er”?

This question may be a better fit on linguistics.SE, but it pertains specifically to English fillers. Also, the question may have a more straightforward answer than what I'm expecting. TL;DR: Are ...
1
vote
2answers
527 views

Is English the only language that distinguishes thumbs from other fingers? [closed]

A Russian colleague of mine recently told me that English is the only language that actively distinguishes between fingers and thumbs by having a completely separate word. Her phrasing of it was ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

The etymology of “religion” comes from “legere” meaning to read + “re” meaning again. Or does it? (more inside) [closed]

The etymology of religion as mentioned in the title comes from Etymonline. And that's very interesting. It makes sense too. My question is, how do the phrases, "to read", "to choose", "to gather", ...
7
votes
2answers
917 views

Why does appraisal have so little to do with praise?

Appraisal and praise can be traced back to a common Latin root: pretiare (“to reward”). One thing that I do not understand, though, is how they came to have such different meanings: praise is ...
1
vote
1answer
147 views

What portions of the vernacular were derived directly from popular media? [closed]

Once in a great while I stumble across a strange fact about an English phrase or term that originated directly from film or print. For instance, "Be afraid. Be very afraid." - Originated from the ...
43
votes
3answers
2k views

How “macro” in computer programming came about

The prefix macro- is normally used for large things like macroeconomics and macroscopic. How did it come to be used to describe text macros in the programming world?
3
votes
1answer
1k views

“Ta” and “ta-ta”

If "ta" means "thank-you", how did "ta-ta" come to mean "goodbye?" Isn't it basically repeating "ta?", in which case, wouldn't it mean "thanks, thanks!"? Is there a reason why? Does it lie in their ...
3
votes
3answers
642 views

Is there an 'official' way to suggest a new word become part of the English language? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Regulatory bodies and authoritative dictionaries for English Creating a new word What are the criteria to adopt new words into English? I've always been told, at ...
4
votes
1answer
170 views

When I shelve only one thing, am I not putting it on one shelf?

As there are plenty of nouns used as verbs, why is it that I do not shelf, but rather shelve, an idea? Since the -lves is just the special case plural of -lf, it seems curious that the -lve is used to ...
4
votes
2answers
157 views

What is the difference between these two “scip”s?

In a question about ships, I added an answer with the etymologies that underpin both ship and -ship. "Ship" stems from scip: "O.E. scip "ship, boat," from P.Gmc. *skipan (cf. O.N., O.S., Goth. skip ...
10
votes
3answers
900 views

Evolution of the meaning of “to dwell”

The Old English meaning of "to dwell" (dwellan) is to mislead. Can we trace the gradual shift from this original sense to that of Modern English: to reside, to inhabit ?
17
votes
3answers
5k views

Gay (homosexual) and gay (happy)

When did the main meaning of the word 'gay' shift from happy to homosexual? How did the meaning evolve, if there is a relation between the two?
3
votes
1answer
330 views

Attention, focus, and respect as distributable resources

I'm curious about why we say things like, "If I could have your attention please", "Please give me your focus", and "Please give me the same respect you want for yourself". When did these become ...