18
votes
5answers
2k views

What does “bupke” mean?

There was the following passage in the New Yorker's (August 27) article titled, “A scandal at the C.I.A. May be.” : In January I (David Shafer, novelist) filed a Freedom of Information Act request ...
2
votes
1answer
695 views

Meaning of the German “ersatz” in English [closed]

As a native German I know some well-known uses of German phrases, but I was astonished that a book from a British reporter I am reading today used "ersatz" without explanation. Is the word "ersatz" ...
23
votes
7answers
58k views

How did “sinister”, the Latin word for “left-handed”, get its current meaning?

Sinister is the Latin word for left-handed. What evolution of meaning turned left-handed into evil and threatening?
3
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the meaning of the suffix “‑don”?

What are the meaning and origin of the suffix ‑don, as in the words pteranodon and megalodon?
8
votes
3answers
39k views

Does the casual use of “a la ___” in English preserve the French meaning?

In English, we use a la carte and a la mode, but it is also common for people to add their own word to the basic construction. For example, one might comment on someone's dancing: He showed us ...
7
votes
2answers
14k views

How is the word “qua” used?

I play Scrabble. I'm learning words with the letter 'q'. What is the usage of the word 'qua'?
3
votes
1answer
164 views

Literal echelons?

Merriam-Webster and the OED list only figurative senses of the word echelon (i.e. military formations and organizational ranks). Would it be incorrect to use it in the literal sense of the French word ...