4
votes
3answers
514 views

The etymology of “redhead” vs. “ginger haired”

All my life I have known people with reddish, orangey hair, to be termed ginger haired. Just as you don't call a blonde a 'yellow head' red head just wasn't a word that was said (wouldn't orange head ...
0
votes
3answers
110 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
82 views

Can all verbs ending in “-ise” be written with the suffix “ize”? [closed]

Are there any "-ise" (or "-yse") words which cannot be (or are never) written using "-ize"? I searched for prior questions, and came across: Correct use of "ise" vs "ize" at the ...
2
votes
1answer
108 views

When did “sci-fi” become popular?

When did the term sci-fi come into usage?
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 ...
13
votes
7answers
513 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
133 views

Origin of “off the meter” idiomatic phrase

When and how did the phrase "off the meter" become established as an idiom? Urban Dictionary defines "off the meter" as the condition of being "very good, awesome, great". I have heard and said it ...
7
votes
1answer
412 views

Why is something fried on a griddle called grilled?

To my understanding, to grill is cooking with a heat source located beneath an open slatted grate (or ribbed closed pan). (For example, using a barbecue grill on one's patio.) The word grill is ...
0
votes
3answers
681 views

There is (there's) vs.There are

What are the roots of the creeping usage of "there's" for both singular and plural predicates? (This seems to be more common in spoken English.) I have 2 theories. Perhaps it is because spoken ...
2
votes
0answers
28 views

Origin/Usage of “[word] is a [number] dollar word” [duplicate]

I've often been wondering where the phrase in the title comes from - I always picture it as coming from an early television era game show, but more likely it has to do with pricing of telegrams or ...
5
votes
2answers
224 views

Is “nowadays” the same as “today”?

When helping an Italian speaker with her written homework, a cover letter, I told her to change the expression nowadays to that of today. Her original sentence was the following: I would be ...
3
votes
1answer
122 views

“Advice I wish I'd had ears to hear” — is this phrase in common use? Origins?

Productivity writer Merlin Mann often uses the phrase "ears to hear" on his podcast. An example from his writing: "a discursive mishmash of advice I wish I'd had the ears to hear in the year or ...
1
vote
3answers
565 views

Did the CIA really introduce 'conspiracy theory' into popular usage after JFK?

I heard that after the JFK assassination the CIA, through assets in mass media, introduced the term 'conspiracy theory', with it connotations of something clearly ridiculous, and only believed by ...
6
votes
1answer
109 views

Etymology of “rabona”

In association football, rabona is used to describe a specific technique: a method of kicking the football whereby the kicking leg is wrapped around the back of the standing leg—effectively with ...
1
vote
2answers
134 views

Corporates - is there any such word?

The use of "corporates" as a word to mean companies, organizations, etc., has been gaining popularity of late, at least here in India. Although I believe it is standard to speak of "corporate" life, ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Do you know the meaning of the American idiom “pot calling the kettle black”?

I just want to conduct a research about this American idiom and how native American people use it. Can you guys answer my questions in the following orders? If you have better questions, I will be ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

In English you have 'above', 'on', 'over' and 'on top of' but in Italian one word, 'sopra', covers all four meanings

In Italian if I were to say, "sopra l'albero" (albero = tree) you might rightly ask: "Yes but where, exactly?" But "sopra" is a great word to learn in Italian, not only is it a very flexible ...
4
votes
2answers
303 views

Origin of the phrase “tell me when”

Growing up in my family, we would often use the phrase "tell me when" when serving each other food, pouring drinks, etc. For example, my mother would begin pouring me a glass of milk and say "tell me ...
2
votes
1answer
299 views

Origin of “[noun] enough” instead of “enough [noun]”?

Sometimes the word "enough" comes before a noun as in "I've got enough money to waste" and sometimes it comes after as in "I've got money enough to waste". Was "[noun] enough" more common in a ...
-2
votes
4answers
4k views

Why is poker a “sport” and not just a “game?” [closed]

So, first off, as tempting as it might be to do so, this is not an invitation to wax poetic on poker. I actually don't play it, but I know how it works. The question really is one of etymology. ...
1
vote
2answers
858 views

Losing bottles and bottling out

ODO's definition for bottle includes the following: 2 [mass noun] British informal the courage or confidence needed to do something difficult or dangerous: I lost my bottle completely and ran ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

History and usage of “dooryard”

I have been interested in the expression "dooryard stop" recently. This is an expression that is used to describe a short visit in someone's dooryard (driveway) that often means not staying long ...
0
votes
1answer
112 views

What does “mouth worked” mean? [closed]

I always thought that “mouth worked” describes when someone moves their mouth as if they are speaking, but no sound is emitted. This happens when they are so surprised that that they don’t know what ...
4
votes
2answers
582 views

How did “classic” and “classical” come to mean “historic”?

I assume the words classic and classical have a basis in the word class — which is to say, of a category. Why do we use those words to mean old or historically important?
5
votes
1answer
484 views

What does “state” in “State University” refer to? [closed]

There are many universities and colleges in the United States with names such as "... State University". The word state has many distinct meanings, but pertinent to this question are: government, ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

How did “fʌck” become taboo? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How long has the f-word been in use as an abusive term? What makes a word offensive? I recognize that this is similar to Etymology of the term "curse words" ...
8
votes
6answers
853 views

Which is correct or more common when talking about medicine: “buy drugs” or “buy medicine”?

I mean it in the sense of buying medicine, for example for common cold or other diseases. When talking about buying medicine, which of these sentences is more correct or more commonly used: "go to ...
6
votes
4answers
15k views

Origin of current slang usage of the word 'sick' to mean 'great'? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How and why have some words changed to a complete opposite? How did 'sick' come to mean 'awesome' or 'really good / cool' in modern U.S. slang? I'm interested in origins ...
0
votes
1answer
304 views

Origin and usage of the phrase “my son”

When I was watching the movie documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11", one of the interviewed lawyers told Michael moore "sit down, my son". After that, I just couldn't stop thinking about this phrase, and how ...