The tag has no usage guidance.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

0
votes
2answers
67 views

The prefix “post” can it mean before? [closed]

The posterior is the behind, the postero-dorsal is behind the antero-dorsal. But when we're talking about time, postmodern means "of, relating to, or being an era after a modern one". So are there ...
4
votes
2answers
131 views

Does the “she was found in violation of…” <-> “she was violated” equivalence have a name?

This is a follow-up to this question: Why is "violated" being used as future perfect with a person as the object? At that question, it was established that there is a jargon/slang usage of ...
2
votes
1answer
36 views

Is it common for “unmitigated” to be used hyperbolically?

In Thousands of radioactive boars are overrunning farmland in Fukushima, the word "unmitigated" is used, even though it isn't an unqualified disaster, as noted in the next sentence. Nuclear ...
4
votes
5answers
285 views

“Are YOU coming to get me” / “Are you coming to GET me” Is there any grammatical or semantic difference?

Is there any grammatical or semantic difference between the phrases: "Are you coming to get me?"—used to imply the question of whether that particular person is coming to get whoever. And this ...
4
votes
1answer
265 views

The semantic shift of “mundane”

All the main English dictionaries give the following as the primary meaning of mundane: Dull; ordinary and not interesting or exciting, especially because of happening too regularly, ...
40
votes
11answers
5k views

Has “hacker” definitely gained a negative connotation?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a hacker as: One who is proficient at using or programming a computer; a computer buff. One who uses programming skills to gain illegal access to a ...
3
votes
1answer
89 views

Recent shifts in semantics which lead to misunderstandings [closed]

I was just answering this question. It is about a use of "should". The word seems to have undergone a semantic shift away from a simple first-person form of "would". Instead it is today most often ...
3
votes
1answer
53 views

Semantic drift: are the words “can”, “could”, etc becoming contranyms?

There have been questions on ELU about the pronunciation of can and can't in American English. This question is about the usage of the word, not simply its pronunciation. Here are a couple of ...
1
vote
1answer
77 views

If “propriety” is from the French for “property”, why is it now about proper comportment?

I was trying to reverse-translate a quote I mistakenly believed to be originally in French that I saw in English, so as to find the source. (It turned out to be from Jeremy Bentham.) In the process, I ...
46
votes
6answers
7k views

How did phobia ever come to mean hatred?

I understand the word 'phobia' to mean an irrational fear of something, tracing its roots to the Greek word ῾φοβια᾽ associated with flight, dread, or terror. How then did this word ever come to ...
4
votes
1answer
265 views

How did we get ‘deft’ and ‘daffy’ from “daft”?

[ Etymonline for 'daft (adj.)'] Old English gedæfte "gentle, becoming," ... from PIE * dhabh- "to fit together" (see fabric). Sense of "mild, well-mannered" (c. 1200). [ Etymonline for ...
50
votes
7answers
11k views

When is my son's first birthday?

[Clue: he was born three weeks ago, on 23 September 2014.] Originally, as I understand it, the word birthday meant the day of one's birth. It was a one-off event. I don't want to quarrel with the ...
-1
votes
2answers
73 views

Business English Semantic Shift of “Abreast”

My coworker just sent out an email asking someone to [please] keep abreast for a response. My understanding is that the phrase is keep abreast of x, and that it is used to mean actively keeping up ...
4
votes
1answer
249 views

What lexical relationship lies between the days of the week?

I'm confused, What is the lexical relationship between "Monday" and "Tuesday"? I mean is the relationship hyponymy, prototypes, polysemy, homophones, metonymy etc?
0
votes
1answer
298 views

Whatever happened to thou and thee? Thy words have become more dreary [closed]

Why did thee, thou and thy come to disappear from English? I am looking for solid explanations, rather than observations that these are still used in dialects in the north. Please explain cause for ...
6
votes
2answers
555 views

What is the real history of the word “scenario”?

In a moment of revery, I pondered from what language the word "scenario" originated. Unsurprisingly, it's Italian in origin, according to etymonline, but the etymonline etymology surprised me - the ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

“Ridiculous amount”: semantic change (amelioration) originated from an antiphrasis? When and how?

"Ridiculous" means laughable, laughable because it is obviously and hilariously not good enough. However in English "a ridiculous amount of money" is "a ridiculously large amount of money". In ...
-1
votes
1answer
6k views

Which is correct: I'll be moving next month or I'll be shifting next month?

For changing one's home from one place to another, I've heard people in western part of the world using the sentence: I'll be moving next month. In India, even in the English news channels, ...
9
votes
1answer
689 views

Why and how did “a sensible boy” become “intelligent and prudent”?

Italians often get confused by sensible and sensitive. If I tell them He's a sensible boy; he studies hard, saves his money, and plans ahead. They are quite bewildered. To them, sensible is ...
1
vote
1answer
416 views

How common is the misuse of “literally” to mean “figuratively”? [closed]

This question "Literally" and "Decimate" misuse addresses the misuse of the word "literally" to mean its opposite. I am curious as to how prevalent is such misuse. My hunch ...
5
votes
3answers
801 views

Why and when did “breast” become gender-specific?

In the past, "breast" used to be applicable to both male and female chests, but is generally only gender neutral nowadays when used in certain contexts, such as "breast meat" or "breastplate". Why and ...
7
votes
2answers
477 views

Is the difference in “sake” in English and Japanese a form of semantic change?

In Japanese, "sake" means any alcoholic beverage, whereas in English, it means a particular beverage from Japan (Nihonshu, literally "Japanese alcohol"). Is this a case of semantic change, or is ...
18
votes
8answers
6k views

Does “criticism” imply positive as well as negative?

I thought I was always taught at school that criticism meant evaluation and opinion, either positive or negative. These days, it seems criticism, or to criticise, is almost exclusively used to mean ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

“Decimate”: has it been used in the “classic” sense in modern writing?

In this question, I learned that "to decimate" meant to reduce by 10% (hope I got that right). And it is lamented that no-one uses it in this sense anymore. Now, given that I never until today knew ...
5
votes
1answer
224 views

Is there a technical term for the degeneration or evolution of words?

Based on this question, I was curious if there is an actual term that describes how words' meanings change or become deprecated over time.
12
votes
6answers
1k views

“Literally” and “Decimate” misuse

Recently I've heard American TV commentators say "[a person] was literally decimated" and "[a Senator] was literally thrown under the bus". In the first case I think the person was not actually 10% ...