26
votes
5answers
3k views

Why are knobs called “pots” by some sound designers?

I was recently introduced to the term "pots" to mean "dials" or "knobs" in the field of sound design and audio engineering. (It rather took me by surprise; I had no idea what the sound designer was ...
65
votes
11answers
9k views

Why is “distro”, rather than “distri”, short for “distribution” in Linux world?

Why is distro, rather than distri, short for distribution in Linux world?
0
votes
2answers
139 views

“Sexy” and “sexiness”

When did the noun sex acquire its corresponding adjective and abstract noun? I would really like to know a few things about the history of these two word formations. As far as I know, these lexical ...
2
votes
1answer
101 views

Are there any rules I can follow to make my own derived adjectives from a noun in English? E.g. xenogamy to xenogamic

I'm currently looking through dictionaries (both online and "offline") for an adjective of the word xenogamy. Basically I want to translate the Dutch phrase "De kruibestuivende onderneming". What I ...
11
votes
2answers
490 views

Why is a “field” on a form called a field?

A simple question, so to re-iterate the title: Why is a "field" on a form called a field? A quick search for the etymology results in: Old English feld "plain, open land" (as opposed to ...
11
votes
1answer
333 views

When and why did the N-word and “negro” go apart?

Both the terms nigger and negro come from the Spanish and Portuguese Negro which denotes "black". But today they have widely different connotations, the former is considered a horrible racial slur, ...
0
votes
1answer
52 views

Is there any (etymological) link between “affection” and “affectation”?

Is there any link between affection and affectation, especially in terms of etymology? I understand -fect means something like "make". Does "make" play any role in conveying their distinct meanings? ...
3
votes
2answers
98 views

What is the origin of the noun “craic”?

I always assumed the phrase "craic on" was actually "crack on", however my naivety was corrected today when I was informed that the correct spelling is, in fact, "craic". I have never seen this word ...
2
votes
2answers
291 views

Why is “feminism” good but “racism” and other “-isms” bad? [closed]

Feminism is generally seen as a good thing. It means something or other about achieving equality of the sexes; of treating people of different sexes the same or as well as each other. Racism is ...
0
votes
2answers
163 views

Was the verb “bring” once used as a noun?

In the book of Amos (KJV, Amos 4:1), we find the verb bring is capitalized in the middle of a sentence. This is in sharp contrast to the same verb written in v. 4 in lower case letters. Finding a ...
2
votes
1answer
155 views

Is “teen-ager” correct? Still used? Etymology?

I was reading an article in The New York Times published in 1990 and came across the spelling of teenager as 'teen-ager'; is this American spelling? Archaic? The young man, who often said he only ...
4
votes
2answers
234 views

What is a “mock euphemism?”

I have to make flashcards for my AP Lang class, but I can't find what a "mock euphemism" is anywhere. Can anyone help?
1
vote
0answers
198 views

Which cardinal came first: the priest, the bird, or the color? [closed]

I'm wondering about the etymology of the word cardinal. I know that cardinal can refer to any of the following: A top-level priest in the Catholic church that sometimes wears red and a crested hat ...
18
votes
5answers
809 views

Tom, Jake and Jenny aren't looking forward to Thanksgiving. Why?

And "Hen" (their mother) isn't much looking forward to it either. Why? I can answer that question myself, it's because they're all turkeys. Tom is an adult male turkey (also often referred to as a ...
2
votes
1answer
162 views

Etymology/word formation of “program” (as in computer program)

The word is obviously derived from the noun 'programme' however I can't work out which way it's most likely to have been created. I'm thinking its either descended from the British spelling of the ...
4
votes
1answer
174 views

Origin of the word “Jellyfish”

Does anyone know the history of the word jellyfish and how it was defined and popularized? OED lists a usage in 1707, but that is referring to a gelatinous vertebrate fish. They start showing uses ...
4
votes
4answers
165 views

What is the etymology of “[computer] terminal”?

I suspect it's something to do with the fact that back in the Olden Days of computing, a terminal was connected to a mainframe computer system, and thus a user would be sat at the terminal end of the ...
1
vote
1answer
245 views

Pronunciation and meaning: “wind” and “wound”

I find it curious that there exist two words spelt wind ("a breeze" vs. "to turn") and two words spelt wound ("an injury" vs. the past participle of wind), and that the words in each pair are ...
9
votes
2answers
307 views

Why did jazz musicians start referring to an engagement as a “gig”?

Why did jazz musicians start referring to an engagement as a "gig"? If any, could anyone provide a couple of quotations from eminent authors to show where a word was first used in this sense? ...
1
vote
1answer
174 views

Incorrectly transliterated foreign words that have been improved [closed]

Seeking a list of several foreign words (usually names, but any noun) that have been borrowed from other languages, but originally transliterated/pronounced incorrectly and are now being improved into ...
1
vote
2answers
118 views

When was the word “phobia” coined? [closed]

When was the word phobia coined? And how did the concept of naming different phobias come into existence?
2
votes
1answer
89 views

Where did the word “buckle” come from?

Buckle is used mostly for the thing that's on belts. Where did the word come from?
1
vote
1answer
82 views

What is Etymology of Munkustrap etc

These bold words are from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats: Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum, Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat, Such as Bombalurina, or else ...
0
votes
3answers
3k views

Why does “information” not have a plural form?

Why doesn't the word information take an "S" in English even if the meaning is "plural"?
11
votes
4answers
981 views

Etymology of “midsummer” — why is the first day of summer called “middle of summer”?

I always found it strange that the day which marks the beginning of the season of summer is called "mid-summer", which I understand would mean "middle of summer". While midsummer is on the summer ...
3
votes
1answer
755 views

Does the word “simpleness” actually exist? [closed]

I always thought the word "simpleness" didn't exist and this was even confirmed by some American friends of mine. However, I tried to look it up on some online dictionaries and I was surprised to find ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

What is swag? And where does it come from?

I'd just like to know where it comes from. This is a word that I've heard all my life but it has always been a special kind of curtain. I was baffled when kids started calling each other curtains so I ...
1
vote
2answers
117 views

First printed use of the word “diagram” in English

I’m trying to track down the first printed use of the word diagram in English. Can anyone tell me the name, author, and date of the publication in question? It would be especially valuable, on top of ...
5
votes
1answer
213 views

Why is the noun form of “permit” “permission”?

The noun form of permit is permission instead of permition. Why isn't it permition?
0
votes
2answers
320 views

Could the term “elephant” have derived from “olfactory?”

The online etymology dictionary gives "Oliphant" as the predecessor of "elephant." Dictionary.com defines "olfactory" as "pertaining to the sense of smell." Given the similarity of "oliphant" and ...
5
votes
1answer
616 views

How did the word “humor”, which originally represented bodily fluids, end up representing funny things?

The etymology of humor shows it represented bodily fluids. It is understood that there was a belief in the ancient time, when each type of bodily fluids were attributed to particular state of mind. ...
34
votes
2answers
4k views

If the plural of ‘man’ is ‘men,’ shouldn’t the plural of ‘German’ be ‘Germen’?

What makes these two words so different that 'man' is changed to 'men', but 'German' is changed to 'Germans'?
11
votes
1answer
393 views

Meaning of “candle” in “I now call to mind that there was a letter in the candle three days ago”

In the book The Trumpet Major, by Thomas Hardy, there is the following paragraph: That was Budmouth postmaster, and he says there's a letter for me. Ah, I now call to mind that there was a letter ...
-2
votes
1answer
1k views

Does the suffix -ion in “invention” mean the same in “station”?

Is the suffix -ion in the word invention the same as in the words direction, nation, fiction, station?
5
votes
1answer
130 views

Etymology of “cronyism”

Cronyism probably comes from Greek khronios ("long-lasting") which has a sense of "old friend". But how is it connected with today's meaning?
14
votes
3answers
30k views

How does “pussy” come to mean “coward”?

The word pussy is often used to mean "coward". This guy is a pussy. and I am wondering why. How are woman's genitals related to being a "coward"?
4
votes
1answer
480 views

What is the origin of “-ix” as a feminine variation?

Some words are made feminine by altering the suffix to be -ix. Examples: dominator → dominatrix executor → executrix rector → rectrix What is the origin of this variation? From my 5 years of ...
3
votes
2answers
174 views

OED Appeals: Antedatings of “party animal”

The OED has made a public appeal for help in tracing the history of some English words, including: party animal noun earlier than 1982 When the OED added its entry for party animal, ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

Etymology of “history” and why the “hi-” prefix?

According to Etymonline, history comes from the same root as story. If they are from the same word, where does hi- come from? Is it just because of the English habit of taking names from other ...
3
votes
1answer
609 views

Forming occupational nouns: Why do you say “butcher” and not “butchian” or “butchor”?

Question: Occupational nouns (butcher, sailor, musician, etc.) have various suffixes in English (er, or, ee, ant, etc.). Is there a set of rules to form occupational nouns from the verbs or their ...
7
votes
1answer
266 views

When was “ladyparts” first used to describe the genitalia of a woman?

When was the word ladyparts first used to describe the genitalia of a woman? I tried to look it up in the British National Corpus but it returned no results.
6
votes
1answer
303 views

Sound changes of “wild” and “wilderness”

I'm having a heated a discussion with a friend and we cannot really get on the same level. In the original pronunciation of the word wild, the "i" was the short sound that we have in the word ...
0
votes
1answer
286 views

Why is “delight” spelt and pronounced the way it is?

This as everything probably has something to do with the GVS, but how?
5
votes
1answer
129 views

Shared root to “bobech”, “bobbin” and “bobby”?

Is there a shared etymological root to the following words? Bobech (glass collar on a candle) Bobbin (in a sewing machine) Bobby [pin] (woman's hair pin) I just learned the word bobech last ...
3
votes
2answers
544 views

What is a “crypto-portrait”?

I have frequently seen the word crypto-portrait popping up in articles on Wikipedia and elsewhere, but I was not able to find a definition for it. Apparently there used to be an article on Wikipedia ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Different Meanings of 'Jumper' (Transatlantic embarassment)

I'm originally from Wales, now living in the USA, and as the cold weather is approaching I'm determined, this year, to start using the word sweater to describe the item of clothing I'm wearing, as ...
3
votes
1answer
78 views

OED Appeals: Antedatings of football “header”

The OED has made a public appeal for help in tracing the history of some English words, including: header noun earlier than 1891 OED researchers have traced the history of header in the ...
0
votes
3answers
209 views

Do “lamb” and “ram” share a common etymology?

A couple of times, I've noticed Japanese people mistakenly use "ram" instead of "lamb". For example You broil lamb [correct] or mutton with vegetables. There are roughly two ways to have Genghis ...
1
vote
2answers
9k views

“Dilemma” vs. “dilemna” [closed]

I understand the correct spelling is 'dilemma' but many people I've spoken with, including myself, were convinced the spelling was 'dilemna'. A quick search on google shows this is not isolated to ...
4
votes
2answers
184 views

First known occurrence of the word “technique” in English

I’m trying to track down the first printed use of the word technique in English. Can anyone tell me the name, author, and date of the publication in question? It would be especially valuable, on top ...