6
votes
1answer
336 views

“An Ewt” to “A Newt”?

What is it called when English speakers, over a long period of time, start adding the letter "n" to the beginning of a word by accident, due to use of the article "an"? For instance, I read somewhere ...
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
63 views

Australis, Austrinus, Australe - in constellations

I was having a look at the official constellations, and I noticed three with similar names: Corona Australis Piscis Austrinus Triangulum Australe Now the "Austral" definitely means "southern", as ...
1
vote
1answer
330 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
167 views

Pool or billiards in 1890s American South?

Which term is more likely to have been used in Georgia around 1893? I found a British website which explains the origin of the modern game known as American pool ...
3
votes
4answers
280 views

What is the history of the word “lobby”?

I would like to know if the word "lobby" would have been used in 1890s Georgia (United States) and to what exactly this word would have referred in that time.
3
votes
4answers
670 views

“Hot cakes” or “flapjacks” in 1890s American South?

Which term is more likely to have been used by my main character, a young man from a wealthy Macon, Georgia family, in 1893?
2
votes
1answer
91 views

Cologne or toilet water?

I am writing a novel set in 1890s Georgia (United States), and I am wondering whether the main character, a young man of eighteen, would refer to eau de toilette as cologne, toilet water, or something ...
11
votes
3answers
640 views

Where did the practice of using apostrophes for possessive nouns but not pronouns originate?

Where did the practice of using apostrophes for possessive nouns but not pronouns originate? For example, possessive nouns (both proper and common) are written with a apostrophe before the final s: ...
2
votes
1answer
551 views

Did English use to have capitalization rules similar to German's current rules? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Capitalisation of nouns in English in the 17th and 18th centuries I was looking up an article of the constitution of the United States of America, and I noticed in the ...
4
votes
2answers
201 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
393 views

History of pronunciation of “moiety”

Wiktionary shows the pronunciation of moiety as /ˈmɔɪ.ə.ti/, which I think agrees with the audio versions at merriam-webster.com and howjsay.com. (Be warned that both those links produce audio when ...
4
votes
1answer
418 views

Why are “homework” and “work” uncountable in English? [closed]

In Bulgarian both "homework" and "work" are countable. Why are they uncountable in English then? What is the difference in meaning that makes that happen?
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are “connection” and “connexion” both used in the same work?

This question, Google Ngrams, Wikipedia, and several dictionaries all say that connexion is an alternate, obsolete spelling of connection. I am reading a several-hundred page treatise (Milton S. ...
4
votes
1answer
433 views

Chicks - Girls, Cats - Boys?

The 1950's song Fever (covered, among others, by Elvis Presley) contains the following lines: Now you've listened to my story Here's the point that I have made Cats were born to give chicks ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Etymology of seemingly weird collective nouns [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Terms for collections of animals In the collective names unkindness of ravens, shrewdness of apes, murder of crows, I cannot find any remote relation to a group. What is ...
26
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the name for the process which turned “iced cream” into “ice cream”?

There are several words (mostly related to food) which are shortenings of their historical forms. For example, the cold treat ice cream was originally known as iced cream in the 1680s. The -ed ending ...
-1
votes
1answer
863 views

Origin of pluralisation of verbs and nouns in English

From this question, I was just wondering why plural nouns use the ending -s, while the exact same ending is used for the third person singular form of verbs. How did we get into this weird situation? ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Adjectives with Latin etymology when noun has non-Latin etymology

As a non-native English speaker, I always wondered why, for example, you say moon, but then you say lunar (same goes for side and lateral, hand and manual and so forth): in some cases, the noun is not ...
16
votes
7answers
20k views

Why is a woman's purse called a “pocketbook”?

It's not a book, and it doesn't fit in anyone's pocket. Why does my brother-in-law insist on calling his wife's purse a pocketbook? I'm interested in the etymology, and in the chronological and ...
19
votes
1answer
4k views

Why don't English nouns have grammatical gender?

English nouns — other than those with natural gender, e.g. people or animals — do not generally have grammatical gender, and so are referred to as 'it' rather than 'he' or 'she'. However, modern ...