22
votes
7answers
4k views

“Take a photo” — why “take”?

I don't understand why it's "take a photo". Why take? Is there any rule for this?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Dust vs. Undust?

The entry for "dust" from LDOCE says: dust1 (n.) [uncountable] → HOUSEHOLD dry powder consisting of extremely small bits of dirt that is in buildings on furniture, floors, etc. if they ...
3
votes
0answers
32 views

How does “to subsist in” come to mean “to be attributed to”? [closed]

What's the logical derivation behind this definition of subsist [Definition 2.1] Be attributable to: the effect of genetic maldevelopment may subsist in chromosomal mutation In that link, the ...
2
votes
2answers
54 views

Difference between “hop the rocks quickly” and “quickly hop the rocks”

I'm trying to decide which sentence is correct, or if they both are. which would you recommend as easier to read/understand for the average reader? Hop the rocks quickly and get the star. ...
3
votes
4answers
85 views

Regions and reasons for the usage of “sleep” as “go to sleep”

This question is very closely linked to this english.SE question, which discusses the usage of "sleep" as a verb meaning "go to sleep" and inspired by this ell.SE question, in which the accepted ...
18
votes
2answers
284 views

“Fire” a weapon before firearms existed?

Did the verb “fire a weapon” exist before the actual introduction of firearms on battlefields? More specifically, does it make sense for a creative work to have archers (or whatever ranged weaponry) ...
0
votes
2answers
204 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
3answers
11k views

What's the difference between “speak” and “talk”, grammatically speaking?

There are a number of questions (example, example) that deal with the slightly different connotations of the words "speak" and "talk". However, there also seem to be some grammatical differences ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

Why are so many important verbs irregular?

In many languages, including English, the most important verbs are irregular. Examples include: to be to do to get to go to have to make The same applies (roughly) to many other languages I ...
0
votes
3answers
380 views

“He eyeballed me pensively”; using bodyparts as verbs

What are these words called, and why are they used in place of traditional verbs? For example: She handed me a pencil. [handed instead of gave] He eyeballed me pensively. [eyeballed instead ...
2
votes
2answers
114 views

How did 'arching' come into use as a verb meaning 'to thwart'?

I have seen the word 'arch' used as a verb in the context of a villain causing trouble for a hero, or a hero thwarting a villain. It is also used when a villain is actively trying to become a hero's ...
3
votes
2answers
549 views

Where did the expression “achievement unlocked” come from?

Why achievement is unlocked? Achievement is not a lock, door or safe. You don't get anything after unlocking. I have an assumption that it came from gaming history, word "unlocked" just transferred ...
1
vote
1answer
352 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
171 views

Why does the verb “be” have so many forms? [duplicate]

I am. You/we/they are. He is. I/he was. You/we/they were. I had been. ... to be. ... being bad. ... Why are there so many forms for this verb, and why are they so dissimilar? If you go far enough ...
7
votes
2answers
416 views

Why did the old pronouns and their respective endings vanish from daily usage?

If I’m not wrong, the verb conjugation in the past used to be: I have we have thou hast ye have he/she/it hath they have This conjugation is closer to its equivalent in the ...
11
votes
3answers
466 views

Make/take a photograph?

In English we say "take a photograph" whereas in some other languages one would say "make a photograph". The French say "take" even though they "make" far more often than we do in English, and ...
1
vote
1answer
150 views

How did “replace” come to mean “put something in the place of”?

Replace has several meanings, but a common one is "to put something in the place of," as in, "After drinking your cola, I replaced it with a beer." The way in which replace, which seems to most ...
2
votes
2answers
904 views

Can we determine a proper verb form of “exegesis” for Biblical scholars to use?

This is related to a conversation here in EL&U SE. Apparently the noun exegete is being used as verb in religious circles. For Biblical Scholars, the word exegesis carries with it a connotation ...
1
vote
1answer
157 views

Differences in the Semantics of Three Tri-Part Phrasal Verbs

What are the subtle semantic differences in the following three tri-part phrasal verbs: (1) be up against (2) come up against (3) run up against
3
votes
2answers
349 views

When did the term 'get lost' first come to use?

I have established that this term is an American idiom. Does anyone know when it came to be popular use or was first used there?
12
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the origin of the word “conk”?

Is it obsolete to use this word? Where does it come from? I couldn't find the origin of this term. Can I use the phrase "The machine conked out" or should I replace conked out with something else?
3
votes
1answer
201 views

“Tabled”, US vs UK [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the meaning of the expression “We can table this”? Here's an example snippet for some context. Ann had an idea. We tabled her idea. In the UK this means ...
3
votes
1answer
721 views

Etymology of “favourite” as a verb

The verb favourite or favorite (past tense favourited or favorited) is fairly new and isn't in many dictionaries. Two of the few are Oxford Dictionaries Online, who define it as: favourite verb ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Reflexive love: where does “love me some …” come from?

It seems trendy to use a reflexive-like construction with love or hate plus some, like this: You know I love me some cheese! I hate me some cold and the temperature is dropping. Where did this ...
-3
votes
1answer
206 views

Origin of “happen” [closed]

What is the origin of the word happen? If it comes from the word hap, what is the early usage of that word?
4
votes
2answers
135 views

Is it possible to use “Go Galt” beyond political or business context?

I came across the expression “Go Galt” in Paul Krugman’s article titled “The Twinkie manifesto” appearing in November 20 New York Times. The phrase appears in the second paragraph of the following ...
13
votes
2answers
479 views

How (and when) was it that the verb 'go' began to mean 'say' in common usage?

i.e. "So then she goes, 'Hey!' and I go, 'What?' because I was on my way out..." I was musing about this the other day, so I decided to try to find out. Unfortunately, my skills lie in different ...
5
votes
1answer
8k views

“Awoken” vs. “awaked”

I understand that the verb awake has two different past participle forms, awoken and awaked. Checking Google Ngram I saw that the former has become more popular than the latter in the last century. I ...
9
votes
5answers
502 views

OED Appeals: Origin of “bimble”

The OED has made a public appeal for help in tracing the history of some English words, including: bimble verb earlier than 1983 The word bimble, meaning ‘to move at a leisurely pace’, ...
1
vote
0answers
37 views

Why is “proceed” spelt “-ceed” and not “-cede” like “precede”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Origins of the “‑cede/‑seed/‑ceed” suffix The pronunciation of proceed is exactly like that of precede with the only difference being the o instead of the e. What rules ...
4
votes
4answers
513 views

How did “kill” get its positive connotations?

For example: She made a killing on the stock market. The comedian killed the audience — they were slain with laughter. Did this meaning develop slowly over time or did some person or ...
5
votes
2answers
282 views

Is “quaver” a blend word of “quake” and “waver”?

Dictionary.com has this etymology for quaver: 1400–50; late Middle English quaveren (v.), blend of quake and waver But Wiktionary disagrees: From Middle English quaveren, frequentative ...
16
votes
6answers
663 views

Where does the phrase “run code” or “run software” come from? Why “run”?

Historically speaking, it makes sense to me someone would say run "the computer". Early computers (not a human computer) were mechanical machines with moving parts that could achieve a velocity deemed ...
1
vote
0answers
53 views

How the English verb conjugation does not have different suffixes? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What happened to the “-est” and “-eth” verb suffixes in English? How were they once used? How do you conjugate Early Modern English verbs (other than ...
3
votes
2answers
298 views

Why are checks cancelled when approved?

A friend of mine just asked if I had paid him back for some money he lent me. I told him the check was cancelled on the 9th. Concerned, he asked, "why'd you cancel the check?" I replied, "I didn't ...
5
votes
1answer
868 views

Why is the verb form of “record” pronounced [ri-kawrd] but the noun form is pronounced [rek-erd]?

Is there a different origin of pronunciation style for record as a verb and as a noun? Fun fact: in OS X, if you type say "this record" and say "record this" — the text to speech system picks up the ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

“Lifting a ban” — why does “lifting” mean “removing”?

In all other cases "moving something up" means creating or increasing something, like in "rising concern" or "erecting obstacles". At the same time "lifting a ban" means effectively removing the ban. ...
1
vote
0answers
113 views

The structure: all be it rare [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is “albeit” pronounced the way it is? Why have the subjunctive and indicative converged in Modern English? When should I use the subjunctive mood? ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Origin of “twitter”

A non-native English speaker said on television that the word twitter originated from an English verb to twite, which means to twitter. Is this true? Does the verb twite exist at all?
3
votes
0answers
121 views

What does “a-” before a verb mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: The times they are a-changin' The times are a-changing? Why a-? While listening to some Bob Dylan I've noticed how he sometimes uses the construction a-verb (e.g. ...
6
votes
2answers
421 views

Why are “indemnify” and “condemn” spelled differently?

Comparing the words indemnify and condemn: Both contain demn as a root Both are transitive verbs Why is one spelled differently from the other – why not indemn, or condemnify?
3
votes
3answers
6k views

“Cover off” meaning “cover”

I've noticed that some business people (generally management types) have started to use the expression "cover off" to mean "cover". E.g. Can you cover off agenda item 3 for me? or Not ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

New verb: “to verbal”

I seem to be noticing this one entering the popular lexicon lately, but cannot find a good definition. Examples: No, you're just verballing... Leakegate: Leake verballed Richard Dawkins ...
8
votes
2answers
279 views

Does “ducking” have anything to do with a canard?

Wiktionary has a passage explaining (no citation) an origin to the use of the word canard as a means of diverting aggression from vulnerability: Specifically, the term Canard refers to a tactic ...
15
votes
5answers
26k views

What's the difference between “Collaborate” and “Cooperate”?

Both of these words seem to mean much the same thing: working together to achieve some goal. I can instinctively feel a difference between them, but I can't easily put it into words. Can you help me? ...
6
votes
1answer
289 views

Are there other verbs like “be” and “go”?

The verbs be and go have the nice peculiarity that their various forms (be/was and go/went) come from originally distinct verbs. Are there other such verbs?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Etymology of “end up” and “wind up”

What is the etymology of the phrase "end up", and of the meaning of "wind up" that means essentially the same thing? To clarify, I mean the specific meaning of "wind up" that means the same as "end ...
4
votes
1answer
170 views

When I shelve only one thing, am I not putting it on one shelf?

As there are plenty of nouns used as verbs, why is it that I do not shelf, but rather shelve, an idea? Since the -lves is just the special case plural of -lf, it seems curious that the -lve is used to ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Origins of the “‑cede/‑seed/‑ceed” suffix

Somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to remember cedere meant “to go or yield” in Latin. Presumably this gives us the words concede and accede. (?) But what about the words supersede and proceed? ...
2
votes
1answer
303 views

Why do some “ing” verbs change tense to “ung” while others go to “inged?” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Origin of different past tenses for verbs with the same endings? Spring has sprung, the bell we had to ring was rung, the sting was stung but when I had to ping a ...