-3
votes
1answer
36 views

How could one quantify the typical modern non-literal usage style? [on hold]

I was thinking, "'Nobody' (joke) uses words literally in English any more -- but, could we quantify that somehow?" So for example with "nobody," the word now only means "almost no-one". If you want ...
0
votes
1answer
78 views

Words starting with “touch”

There are several words in English starting with touch, such as touchwood, touchstone, touchline, ect. (a list can be found here : http://www.scrabblefinder.com/starts-with/touch/ ) I would like to ...
13
votes
2answers
425 views

Reversal of the meaning of the word “restive”

According to google etymology the word restive originally meant inclined to remain still. But then it changed the meaning to the opposite. I would like to know if such phenomenon of revresal ...
2
votes
1answer
98 views

Words that changed meaning in past hundred years [closed]

I am looking for a list of words that were used to mean something different from for what they are used now. some words are such that whose meaning has changed completely and some words have more ...
1
vote
3answers
85 views

Is the phrase “awaiting customer” bad English?

In customer support software, issue tracking systems and the like, I frequently see a state titled awaiting customer to signify no action is required until the person (customer) who raised the issue ...
2
votes
2answers
141 views

The words “objective” and “subjective”

We say subjective to indicate that something is based on feelings and opinions, and objective to indicate the opposite. Why are these the same words as objective and subjective referring, in grammar, ...
1
vote
2answers
90 views

Trans vs Transgender vs Transsexual

As I understand it, trans means "an individual whose gender identity is different than what they were designated at birth". However, I also hear the terms transgender and transsexual used for similar ...
1
vote
1answer
43 views

What is the origin of the suffix: 'ship'? [duplicate]

What is the origin of the suffix: 'ship'? Why was it chosen to become as a suffix ? What made it special over other words like maybe 'cart' or 'rainbow' or something? ie friendSHIP might have ...
2
votes
1answer
55 views

What does the suffix -ling mean? [closed]

What does the suffix -ling mean. As in inkling...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Dust vs. Undust?

The entry for "dust" from LDOCE says: dust1 (n.) [uncountable] → HOUSEHOLD dry powder consisting of extremely small bits of dirt that is in buildings on furniture, floors, etc. if they ...
2
votes
4answers
169 views

Difference between “encampment” and “camp”

I recently came across the term encampment. Although I could understand that the word must be very close related to camp, it bugs me that I don't understand why such a long word for the same thing ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Is “Ur-moment” a normal English expression?

The New York Times article of this past July 29th titled, “The D.O. Is In Now: Osteopathic Schools Turn Out Nearly a Third of All Med School Grads,” features the growing popularity of the Touro ...
11
votes
10answers
4k views

What is the opposite of an Epiphany?

I think of an Epiphany as a "Eureka Moment" as in a goldminer crying out, "Eureka!" upon discovering a vein of gold (I'm a native Californian (and former resident of Eureka), so that example comes ...
2
votes
1answer
103 views

What are the most common ways to say “die”, i.e. pass away? [closed]

It seems like my question was too broad to answer. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I've edited my question a little. So, I would like to know what common terms I can use instead of the word "die." ...
2
votes
1answer
37 views

When did 'permission' become popular as a therapy term

Permission has several uses, but somewhere around the 1990s it became common to hear it in the context of therapy sessions as in "you need to give yourself permission to..." do this or that. When did ...
19
votes
7answers
5k views

Why are female wizards called “witches”?

I was looking up these two words in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English: Wizard: Witch: It's mentioned in the Word Origin section that Wizard comes from "Wise", while for "Witch" it ...
2
votes
1answer
72 views

What's the original meaning of “Abraxis”?

Today I realized that I'd been running into the name 'Abraxis' in quite a few different places, and I didn't know what it meant. If it appeared once or twice as the name of a fictional character or a ...
3
votes
0answers
35 views

How does “to subsist in” come to mean “to be attributed to”? [closed]

What's the logical derivation behind this definition of subsist [Definition 2.1] Be attributable to: the effect of genetic maldevelopment may subsist in chromosomal mutation In that link, the ...
0
votes
1answer
86 views

Drinks Shirley - Slang for overhead dispenser? [closed]

In a TV series, a man from London (living in Canada) asked for the house bar using the word "Drinks Shirley". What does it mean exactly? Is it this kind of dispenser?
1
vote
1answer
46 views

Are “bunk” and “bunker” directly related?

When did the term bunk (in the sense of sleeping berth) arise, and what if any connection does it have to the noun bunker? Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) gives a first ...
3
votes
4answers
98 views

Is the term “professional” justifiably reduced to “being paid to do something”?

I very often hear people call themselves professional at something they haven’t been doing long. On the rare occasions that I ask them how they feel able to qualify themselves as professional, the ...
-1
votes
1answer
78 views

Help me understand the meaning of a phrase I use regularly- “just ducky” [duplicate]

When people ask me; "how are you"? I love to answer with "just ducky" (sp?) and it usually gets a disarming smile and sets a light-hearted tone for conversation to follow. I adopted it as part of my ...
-3
votes
1answer
70 views

“Show” and “Shower” [closed]

I'm a programmer and found myself naming an entity, which shows things, as Shower. Of course, the first time I read it, I remembered the freshness of the drops of water and nothing related to what it ...
2
votes
3answers
192 views

Name for the bumper at the end of a parking spot - is it a “turtarrier”? If so, why?

I was trying to find out if there was a single word to mean the bumper at the end of a parking spot. "Parking bumper" is a little unwieldy, and "wheel chock" seems to be more about airplanes or ...
3
votes
2answers
53 views

Resident advisor: an advisor who resides or someone who advises residents?

Google assures me that there's a position at various postsecondary institutions called "resident assistant", "resident advisor", or "resident adviser". This is a student who lives in a dormitory and ...
0
votes
4answers
102 views

The “Oh to have…” expression [closed]

What does "Oh to have..." mean, as in "Oh to have a song in a national campaign" in Jon Lajoie's song "Please Use This Song"? Can somebody explain the origin and meaning of this expression? In what ...
1
vote
2answers
124 views

What is the story behind the word “Mahjong”?

What is the story behind the word Mahjong? Google says "sparrows", but is that accurate and why sparrows? Other results seem to be vague or non-descriptive at best. It boggles my mind that the word ...
4
votes
3answers
495 views

crazy as a pet coon under a red wagon

Has anyone else heard this phrase? I heard it growing up in western Kansas and have always wondered where it came from. My brother in law would say, "That dog is a as crazy as a pet coon under a red ...
0
votes
3answers
89 views

What is the difference between “universal” and “generic”?

I hear lots of time the words universal and generic being used in similar contexts (especially in software engineering) - what is the difference between them?
4
votes
5answers
414 views

Etymology of “Feeding the dragon”

I have heard the phrase "feeding the dragon" used to describe pouring time, resources, and energy into a situation that is self-perpetuating, caught in a positive feedback loop with negative ...
3
votes
4answers
88 views

Regions and reasons for the usage of “sleep” as “go to sleep”

This question is very closely linked to this english.SE question, which discusses the usage of "sleep" as a verb meaning "go to sleep" and inspired by this ell.SE question, in which the accepted ...
4
votes
1answer
82 views

Can the term “G-Man” be used to describe a Government official who is not an FBI agent?

Earlier today I was doing Merl Reagle's crossword and one of the clues was "Fraud fighting Fed." The answer turned out to be "T-Man," being short for "Treasury Man." So, this got me thinking... ...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

What's the origin of “water under the bridge”?

What's the origin/background of the phrase "water under the bridge"? To what does it allude? I understand it means to let bygones be bygones--to move on from the past. But I don't think I understand ...
7
votes
4answers
249 views

Ne'er cast a clout till May be out. Meaning?

Today across southern England, it was one of those glorious May mornings of which the poets wrote. The darling buds in bloom, the scent of the blossom hanging like nectar in the air, and the sun up in ...
2
votes
1answer
104 views

Can someone provide an explanation regarding the etymology of the adjective “hell-bent?”

It's etymology is given as: hell-bent, 1835, U.S., originally slang, from hell + bent How do the the words "hell + bent," when taken together, form the definition "determined to achieve ...
0
votes
1answer
89 views

What is a bromide?

I just finished reading Ayn Rand's wonderful Fountainhead, but one point that escaped me was Rand's near-constant use of the word bromide to refer to something disappointing, or a "bummer" in the ...
2
votes
0answers
176 views

Is language inherently circular? [closed]

I looked up "Hallelujah" in etymonline.com today, and the result, as often happens with etymological research, ended in following a rabbit warren of possibilities. Take the word "Hallelujah" for ...
2
votes
2answers
57 views

Whistle-stop tour

I came across this phrase 'Whistle-stop tour' while reading an article. Please throw a light on it's origin and meaning.
3
votes
1answer
51 views

Is William Blake's usage of “to break a net” idiomatic or metaphorical?

The following passage is from William Blake's 1793 work "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell": A man carried a monkey about for a shew, & because he was a little wiser than the monkey, grew vain, ...
6
votes
2answers
713 views

Done and dusted

I came across the idiom 'Done and dusted'. I would like to know what is the origin and meaning of this idiom.
5
votes
1answer
122 views

What's the meaning and the origin of “skewer a sacred cow ?” [closed]

I've read this idom from an article, and it seems that the phrase "skewer a sacred cow" mean "to criticize" but I am not very sure. Does anyone know the exact meaning and the origin of this idom?
2
votes
1answer
144 views

Etymology and meaning of the word “pizzled”

I heard of a term today called "pizzled" and am confused about it as there is a plethora of different definitions for the word. I first heard it in a speech by David Shing TNW Europe Conference. He ...
2
votes
1answer
77 views

The word “chemist” and its origins?

I know chemist means someone who sells medicines or drugs. However, we use physicist for someone who studies/researches physics, and so will anyone naturally understand. But it has always confused ...
0
votes
2answers
89 views

Spendthrift vs Thrifty - origins

I have always been curious to understand the origin of these two seemingly similar words. Looking at them for the first time, I thought they were synonyms, but ever since I learnt their meanings, ...
1
vote
1answer
59 views

meaning of Republic [closed]

I've been thinking what might be the real meaning of the word Republic? As far as I know the prefix re- gives the base word the meaning of again; as in renew, replace, reclaim. I am wondering what ...
13
votes
7answers
678 views

Which is longer: snooze, nap, kip, 40 winks or siesta?

How long is a snooze? My boyfriend will invariable take an afternoon snooze which might last anything up to two hours. A nap on the other hand, can be short, quick or even long, and sometimes they are ...
1
vote
3answers
159 views

Bike Race question - Loser gets to be the girl [closed]

I don't remember which movie it was in, but there were two men (filled with testosterone), and they had this bet that the loser would be the girl. It was never specified what ''gets to be the girl'' ...
0
votes
2answers
228 views

Does “eff” mean to describe in words?

If one dissects the word "ineffable", there are three main roots in - not able - able to be done eff The meaning of the root able implies that some part of the word before it must refer to an ...
2
votes
2answers
195 views

Where does the word “button-down” come from?

I was wondering where the term 'button-down' comes from. I tried to do some research but I was not very successful... How was the word button-down formed? Is it a compound ? Does it originate from ...
5
votes
6answers
488 views

Which is the older sense of the word “linguist”?

I have been listening to some rants on YouTube against people learning a bunch of languages calling themselves "linguists". I'm personally interested in both linguistics and languages as a hobby but ...