The tag has no wiki summary.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

2
votes
1answer
35 views

Origin of “Every dollar you spend is a political act”?

Who was the first to say this? Every dollar you spend is a political act. I find it here and there and it seems like a quote, but I can't find the origin.
7
votes
1answer
187 views

What is the origin of “rat”?

A simple little word for a common little fella. Yet, the origin is unknown (or not?). Both OED and Etymonline are bold enough to say "of uncertain origin"; but, of course, they try to explain the ...
5
votes
2answers
202 views

Why are Irish people called “turk” and “turkey”?

Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang (edited by John Ayto, John Simpson) lists the following slang words used for Irish people: bog-trotter, harp, Mick, Paddy, Pat, turk, turkey I can guess why ...
1
vote
1answer
29 views

Origin of “Disclosure” [closed]

I'm wondering about the word 'Disclosure', especially in the context of making something known, such as a conflict of interest. For example: Full disclosure: I am the owner of the shop I just linked ...
29
votes
5answers
3k views

Origins of “turn over in his grave”?; “turn over in her grave”? etc., etc

The best result of my google-search for the origins of the idiomatic phrase, “turn over in the grave” was this, from wikipedia: One of the earliest uses is found in William Thackeray's 1849 work ...
7
votes
1answer
243 views

Why does a Cheshire cat grin, and how long has it been doing so?

Most people are familiar with the expression "grin like a Cheshire cat" from Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (1865), which goes so far as to provide a glimpse of the grin without the cat. But the ...
0
votes
1answer
176 views

There's a pork chop in every beer, origin

I first heard this expression when, as a bartender, I asked a patron who'd ordered a pint if he wanted to see a menu. His response: "I'm all right, thanks. There's a pork chop in every beer." I've ...
2
votes
1answer
113 views

why say “take” when we really mean “leave” (a piss, etc.)

The use of "take" in colloquial expressions of urination and defecation continues to both confound and amuse even the youngest of language enthusiasts. Just ask my son, who will insist with a smile ...
2
votes
2answers
254 views

origin of “gingerly”

For years I thought gingerly meant "with spirit or liveliness," I suppose because "spirit and liveliness" define the noun ginger. But no; gingerly means "cautiously or carefully." How did it take on ...
1
vote
1answer
198 views

What is the origin of “Boxing Day”?

OED gives the definition and a quote from 1833 as the earliest reference as: The first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various ...
2
votes
1answer
124 views

’Tis the season

Google has a new doodle that says ’Tis the season when you put your cursor on it: What is the origin of this usage? or even the contraction ’tis? Details: There is a popular carol called “Deck ...
1
vote
4answers
139 views

Where does the expression “at a crack” come from?

The phrase at a crack is sometimes used to mean at one time. For example §§: Companies that have had generations of employees growing up under a no-layoff policy are now dumping 10,000 ...
3
votes
1answer
241 views

What is the origin of “Kris Kringle”?

In Canada, we use the term "Kris Kringle" for gift exchange tradition in Christmas. It is also spelled as "Kriss Kringle". In US and UK, it is called Secret Santa. Wikipedia says "Secret Santa" is ...
1
vote
1answer
58 views

Where does the response “Anytime” come from? [closed]

When someone says "Thank you" whenever I have helped them out, I naturally respond with "Anytime". I recently started thinking about this and couldn't quite figure out where this word originates from. ...
9
votes
4answers
490 views

What is the origin of the phrase “bullet points”?

In particular, was the expression coined by a single individual or is it attributed to a document? The only thing I've been able to find was a non-cited reference to its origins in the 19th century ...
5
votes
2answers
80 views

In what context did the noun 'countdown' first emerge, and when did the word first appear in print?

A recent EL&U question (What does “counting” in “Bits of plastic in oceans: 5.25 trillion and counting” mean?) led to a discussion of counting up versus counting down. In the course of that ...
4
votes
2answers
360 views

What is the origin of “alrighty”?

It is a friendlier and more colloquial version of "alright". It is also heard in the exclamation/interjection "Alrighty, then!". I usually hear it at the end of conversations in Canadian English, ...
2
votes
2answers
161 views

Where did the term “Double Standard” originate?

Is it from someone flying two flags (standards are a type of banners or flag) and say riding both sides of the fence? I'm guessing here as I can find nothing on this. but it sounds logical to me.
0
votes
1answer
141 views

Dull as ditchwater (not dishwater) … specific questions thereon

(1) who specifically, or at least when specifically, did originate the phrase? {Example answer - "that was one of Shakespeare's!"} (2) why? (3) when first did someone screw up and use ...
0
votes
3answers
683 views

How come “wise man” and “wise guy” have opposite connotations?

wise man: a sage a wise and trusted guide and advisor wise guy: a smart aleck a person who is given to making conceited, sardonic, or insolent comments ...
4
votes
3answers
228 views

When and where did the exclamation “Snap!” originate?

Recently I heard and an explanation for what the exclamation "Snap!" meant. He stated that it comes from the kid's card game where you yell "Snap" at a certain time to win the card pile. I'm vaguely ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

“Sober as a judge” vs. “Drunk as a lord”. Why judge? Why lord?

Sober as a judge is a simile that is used for someone completely sober. Drunk as a lord is a simile that is used for someone completely drunk. Why is judge equated with sobriety and lord with ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Origin of “Why is a mouse when it spins?” riddle

Question: "Why is a mouse when it spins?" Answer: "Because the higher the fewer." There are some great responses regarding the provenance of this seemingly-nonsensical riddle at this ...
3
votes
3answers
501 views

Origin of “name happened” form: from “s*** happens” via “magic happens”?

There’s a form in current English Then <X> happened or <X> happened, where you transition the name of a thing (a person, a fictitious character, or object), to mean the dramatic ...
0
votes
1answer
176 views

When did saying “I'm offended” or “I find that offensive” become a common phrase in English?

When did saying I’m offended or I find that offensive become a common phrase in English?
3
votes
1answer
95 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 ...
13
votes
8answers
852 views

Why doesn't English have a separate word for “head hair”? (head hair vs. body hair)

The answer can be "Because it doesn't!" or "It wasn't needed!" in short but there might be a historical or linguistic explanation behind this. (Of course, every language might be lacking a word that ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the origin of “breaking bad”?

Wiktionary gives the meaning of "break bad" but does not mention about the origin: 1. (colloquial, of an event or of one's fortunes) To go wrong; to go downhill. 2. (colloquial, chiefly ...
11
votes
3answers
489 views

Etymology of “bridge” (the card game)

I've always thought that the name of this card game comes from the English word bridge (the structure) but it is not quite like that. It's the English pronunciation of a game called Biritch, which was ...
10
votes
2answers
343 views

Is “kip” Chinese in origin?

While looking up the history of kip, I realized that the information about its origins is rather scant. The noun and verb to kip in BrEng is often said when a person wishes to take a short sleep or a ...
5
votes
3answers
10k views

Why is mutton used for both sheep meat and goat meat?

The meat of an adult sheep is called mutton. The meat of an adult goat is called chevon or mutton. In the English-speaking islands of the Caribbean, and in some parts of Asia, particularly ...
10
votes
4answers
863 views

Why “English” but not “Anglish”?

Etymology of English from Etymonline: Old English Englisc (contrasted to Denisc, Frencisce, etc.), from Engle (plural) "the Angles," the name of one of the Germanic groups that overran the island ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is it called “slippery dick”?

No, no, it is not what you think! It is a poor fish called slippery dick: The slippery dick, Halichoeres bivittatus, is a species of wrasse native to shallow, tropical waters of the western ...
4
votes
2answers
835 views

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could if a woodchuck could chuck wood! What is the origin of this ...
4
votes
1answer
7k views

When and from where did “guns” become slang for biceps?

I first heard the use of guns to mean biceps in high school. I thought it was just a local slang. It turns out to be universally known. I later saw it in magazines and fitness books. I also heard of ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the origin of the term “toots” to refer to a woman?

When speaking to my female friends (who know me well enough to not take offense), I frequently use the term toots to refer to them. These are friends who know that I'm using it ironically as part of ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the origin of the phrase “Crazier than a sh*thouse rat!”?

I can't seem to find an origin to this particular phrase. Can anyone shed some light on what makes sh*thouse rats particularly crazy? I also wonder about the origin of the similar *Bat-shit crazy". ...
6
votes
8answers
49k views

Original Meaning of Blood is thicker than water, is it real?

I recently read that the phrase "Blood is thicker than water" originally derived from the phrase "the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb", implying that the ordinary meaning ...
8
votes
3answers
800 views

Whence does “sprog” come?

The British informal word for a child. I couldn't get any work done because the sprogs were running riot. ODO has the following: 1940s (originally services' slang): perhaps from obsolete ...
4
votes
2answers
826 views

What's the etymology of “humdinger”?

A humdinger is a remarkable or outstanding person or thing. The OED has it as originally US dating (as hum-dinger) from 1905, but says the origin is unknown. Where does the word humdinger come from? ...
9
votes
2answers
303 views

What is the etymology of the word “howwa”, meaning “that thing”?

In the North-East of England, where I live, the word "howwa" is used to mean "that thing". It is pronounced like "shower" and could be used in the following contexts: Can't you get it to work? ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Where does the word “snogging” come from?

Where does the word snogging come from, in the sense of canoodling? I’m looking for it etymology, not for its connotation or phonoaesthetic properties, as the answer of the other question provides. ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the etymology of “yonks”?

How did we come to say "yonks" meaning a long period of time? "I haven't been to the cinema in yonks." Etymonline has nothing and Oxford dictionaries has: noun: British informal: a very ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Who is Jack Robinson?

I was reading my dictionary and I came across this phrase: "Before you can say Jack Robinson", meaning almost instantaneously to be used as follows: Before you can say Jack Robinson, I took the ...
5
votes
6answers
6k views

Origin of “kettle of fish”

What is the origin of the phrase "kettle of fish"? e.g. It's was a good film. But the sequel is a different kettle of fish. It seems to simply mean "thing", but in a fun and witty way. But I ...
5
votes
6answers
21k views

Origin of the phrases “third time’s the charm” and “third time lucky”?

What would the origin of the saying “Third time’s the charm”? I’ve also heard “third time lucky” used as well. Are these two expressions related to each other?