2
votes
1answer
38 views

When did 'permission' become popular as a therapy term

Permission has several uses, but somewhere around the 1990s it became common to hear it in the context of therapy sessions as in "you need to give yourself permission to..." do this or that. When did ...
2
votes
1answer
62 views

Why football and rugby clubs use “Racing Club” in their names?

There are many sport clubs with the name Racing Club of [town name]. It seems that Racing Club is an old name for clubs of runners. But I don't understand why is it used for football or rugby clubs ...
3
votes
4answers
109 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
431 views

Etymology of “Feeding the dragon”

I have heard the phrase "feeding the dragon" used to describe pouring time, resources, and energy into a situation that is self-perpetuating, caught in a positive feedback loop with negative ...
4
votes
1answer
89 views

Can the term “G-Man” be used to describe a Government official who is not an FBI agent?

Earlier today I was doing Merl Reagle's crossword and one of the clues was "Fraud fighting Fed." The answer turned out to be "T-Man," being short for "Treasury Man." So, this got me thinking... ...
1
vote
3answers
198 views

etymology of eavesdropping [closed]

there's this word eavesdropping or eavesdrop, which I looked over in oxford and several other places. the closest I got to understanding it was that it originated from an obsolete noun "eavesdrop", ...
1
vote
2answers
63 views

“Healthy” vs “healthful”— Do fruits and veggies work out?

The OED doesn't say much other than the two words have long been synonyms since the 1500s. healthful - promoting good health healthy - being in good health/condition Why do we say that ...
0
votes
3answers
90 views

On the evolution of the meaning of “few”

Was the word "few" used exclusively to refer to groups of eight people (or things) at some point of time? There is a well-known verse in the New Testament which implies the plausibility of such a ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Why do we use the word “oops”, if something goes wrong?

Why do we use the word oops in a sentence or when communicating with others, if something goes wrong? I would like to know the correct information regarding this question.
10
votes
9answers
2k views

Does the word “master” denote masculinity?

The other day, I had a little argument with a friend. He asserted that if the principal of a school is a female, she would not be called a "headmaster", rather - a headmistress. But I disagreed with ...
0
votes
1answer
98 views

Alternative word for pajama?

When I first saw the word "pajama", I felt it doesn't sound like an English word. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pajama says it's from Hindi and Urdu and showed up after 1883. I'm just ...
4
votes
2answers
536 views

'-gate' as a suffix to coin words related to scandals and corruption cases

I noticed that for corrruption/scandals the usage of '-gate' suffix is pretty common, as we have recently seen with 'datagate' and before with 'watergate' Can anyone explain what the relation between ...
0
votes
2answers
221 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
438 views

Ways to Memorize “Discreet” and “Discrete” [closed]

I have a question about discreet and discrete. People tend to get these two words mixed up, and I would like to help them memorize these two words. Discrete: unconnected; separate Discreet: ...
1
vote
0answers
24 views

“Nothing but” usage [duplicate]

I have seen the phrase "Nothing but" used in many places. e.g.: Inertia is nothing but the mass of the object. Time is nothing but a line How did nothing but come into existence?
0
votes
1answer
246 views

Erf as term for plot of land in a town or city. Is this word only used in southern Africa?

The Free Dictionary website states and so does Wikipedia: erf [ɜːf] n pl erven [ˈɜːvən] (Engineering / Civil Engineering) South African a plot of land, usually urban, marked off for building ...
1
vote
2answers
159 views

Is automobiles only a “car”

If we go by the word it should be anything which can move(mobile) on its own. The etymology section under wikipedia suggest so. But dictionary, wikipedia etc. says that its meaning is car. My ...
3
votes
3answers
722 views

Is the usage of idiom, “get hold of the wrong end of the stick” situation specific?

I came across the idiom, “get hold of the wrong end of the stick” in the following sentence of the scene where Barry Calvert, an FBI agent tells his colleague, Mark Andrews about the statement of an ...
4
votes
1answer
232 views

Does the word “exgest” exist?

A colleague of mine found reference to the word "Exgest" in a contract. In context, this appeared to mean the opposite of the word "Ingest" which was used earlier in the contract. These words were ...
3
votes
4answers
668 views

Why do the British refer to things as 'posh'

Why do the British refer to something very smart, or people who are very well-off as being 'posh'?
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Is 'disinstruct' or 'de-instruct' legitimate usage?

When you engage a lawyer or an estate agent, for example, you instruct them. What is the most appropriate word to use when you decide you've had enough and want to get rid of them? There are several ...
5
votes
3answers
247 views

Are effect and affect related to efferent and afferent?

In my work I occasionally write about neurons. A common description of the relationship between two populations of neurons is to describe one as being "afferent" or "efferent" with respect to another. ...
5
votes
2answers
335 views

Can one be “convicted” if one has a strong opinion?

Can "convicted" be used to qualify somebody who has a conviction (in the sense of strong opinion)? In that context it would be a close synonym of convinced or opinionated for example. It possibly ...
4
votes
1answer
457 views

Why does “lemon” mean “inferior”? [duplicate]

Please see this example. The poster uses the word lemon in the last sentence. I understand in a general sense that this is being used to indicate something bad or more specifically of inferior ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are animal names used as vulgar slang for body parts?

Asking this question in strict propriety out of genuine curiosity, why is that in (American) English animal-related names are used for vulgar names for the private body parts? In fact, all of the ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

What does “maze-bright” mean?

From searching online, I haven't found any dictionary entries for this phrase, however it seems it has something to do with Tryon's rat experiment, and it's often used in HR to describe a certain type ...
1
vote
1answer
658 views

What is the difference, if any, between “divine providence” and “Providence” (with a capital p)?

ODO defines providence as: providence: [mass noun] 1 the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power: they found their trust in divine providence to be a source of comfort ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Origin of the double meaning of “Swear”

It's always been on in mind, how can a single word have two meanings so opposite as "Swear" has? More specifically, how did the word "Swear" assumed its good and bad face? Was it born as good and ...
14
votes
1answer
605 views

Can the word Gentoo be used in a derogatory way?

I was reading a Wikipedia article on Gentoo Penguin and came across the following Paragraph. The application of Gentoo to the penguin is unclear. The Oxford English Dictionary notes that Gentoo ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

How did the term “esquire” come to be used for lawyers?

Esquire, as I understand it means "mister." But in modern usage it is an abbreviated American appendage to names that indicates one is a lawyer, and it is used for men and women. How did that happen? ...
-1
votes
1answer
143 views

Is 'promptus' a valid word? [closed]

I did a Google:define on Promptus and think it has Latin origin. But since I don't see it in the English dictionaries, I am not sure if I can use it at all in my conversation.
6
votes
5answers
977 views

Alternative definitions of wifebeater

I was a li'l nonplussed to find out that the word wifebeater can mean other things besides "a man who beats up his wife". Its definition reads: One who (usually as a repeated practice) beats ...
11
votes
2answers
435 views

What does the term “kerplewy” mean?

What does the term mean and what is the best way to use it? And, I also wanted to know if there is any information about where it comes from. And by the way, how do we pronounce it?
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Do Americans use the term “garburator” or is there a better equivalent?

Is it obsolete to use the term garburator to refer to a garbage disposal unit in a kitchen? If it is, do we have a better term to replace it with? Also, what is the etymology of this word?
1
vote
2answers
845 views

What is the origin and scope of usage of the phrase “So long…” used to bid goodbye? [closed]

We often colloquially use the phrase so long to say goodbye. For eg. So long, we'll see you next week or He said so long and left. What is the origin of this phase? Rather, how did it come into ...
13
votes
2answers
490 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
205 views

Etymology of “Green Paper” and similar expressions [closed]

Is there any other similar expression beside White Paper, Green Paper, Yellow Pages and Blue Book? What is relation between their color and their meaning?
2
votes
2answers
784 views

What makes 'admix' different from 'mix'?

A friend of mine (who, as far as I know, doesn't have English as a first language, though is fluent) mentioned how odd it was that English had the word admix, and quoted a dictionary definition that ...
-2
votes
1answer
107 views

Are 'contemporary' and 'contemplate' related words? [closed]

Do the words contemporary and contemplate relate to each other in any way?
8
votes
6answers
865 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
447 views

Origin of using the phrase “folks” to refer to parents

Why can the phrase "your folks" be used to refer to "your parents"? What is the origin of this usage?
0
votes
3answers
2k views

How offensive is to call a girl “Barbie doll”? Why?

I remember I had a conversation where I have told a girl she was Barbie doll. I just meant she looked beautiful like a Barbie doll: blond, and with blue eyes. Needless to say, she was really offended, ...
2
votes
0answers
507 views

English words mockingly derived from French? [closed]

According to Wikipedia, up to 30% of English words come from French, and I'm interested in a special subset of them. Not "loan words", but words that seem potentially derived in jest. For example, ...
-1
votes
0answers
62 views

What is meant be, “I've have taken a stab at editing”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Meaning of “take a stab at doing something” Recently, a guy edited a question asked by me on SE network and commented: "I've taken a stab at editing it to ...
5
votes
1answer
780 views

Where does the phrase “It's a good job that …” come from?

In a recent link the phrase "It's a good job that..." is used. I take it to mean the same as It's a good thing that ... but I've never in my almost 50 years of English heard job used like that ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do we “scotch” a rumour?

The etymology of the verb to scotch is unclear. Here is the origin note from Oxford Dictionaries: early 17th century (as a noun): of unknown origin; perhaps related to skate1. The sense 'render ...
2
votes
2answers
212 views

What's the linguistics term for “Schubertiaden” and similar words? [closed]

What's the linguistics term for "Schubertiaden" and similar words (that refers to a group of people based on a person's name)?  "Schubertiaden" refers to the group of people of similar interest and ...
5
votes
5answers
5k views

What is the origin and earliest recorded usage of 'cock-up'

In informal British English, the expression 'cock-up' (c.f. the US English 'fuck-up') is used to indicate an error or problem in a situation. What is the origin of this expression and its etymology? ...
6
votes
3answers
426 views

Why does “-Cy” become “-Sy”?

What rule of grammar, or etymological history, makes "prophe-cy" (noun) become "prophe-sy" (verb)? What causes the C to become an S when the word usage changes?
4
votes
4answers
4k views

“By the Bye”: Etymology and Usage

In India we frequently use this term as a substitute for 'By the way'. Is the usage as popular in other countries? Can someone throw some light on the etymology?