0
votes
3answers
64 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
946 views

Why do we say that someone “practices” law or medicine?

I’m wondering why we refer to providing legal or medical services as a practice of law or medicine, respectively. For example, we say that a lawyer practices law or a doctor practices medicine. This ...
0
votes
4answers
4k views

Do we ask for check or cheque in restaurants?

I know there is a related question asked here. But its slightly different than it and seeking more information. I live in India, I have been to America couple of times. In my first trip it was ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Origin of “good night” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the origin of the word “goodbye”? These are probably the most used two words in our day-to-day conversations. We normally use superlative degrees all ...
4
votes
2answers
215 views

Was “oop” really more common than “oops” till 1990?

Ngrams shows a marked preference for oop over oops up until 1990: Is Ngrams to be trusted here? Is it strange that I've never seen oop in writing? Even Dictionary.com doesn't have anything more ...
1
vote
0answers
157 views

In ancient times, could a prince use the royal “we”? [closed]

We know that a king can use the royal "we" to refer to himself. But can his son use it too?
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Etymology of seemingly weird collective nouns [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Terms for collections of animals In the collective names unkindness of ravens, shrewdness of apes, murder of crows, I cannot find any remote relation to a group. What is ...
1
vote
3answers
594 views

Use of the term Hans in an American name in the 1700's

I'm doing some research on family history. I am trying to track some people that came to the U.S from Germany in 1737 on the ship "Charming Nancy". Here's the link: ...
9
votes
5answers
650 views

Has “dilemma” ever been restricted to two options?

I was surprised to discover my dictionary had this entry for dilemma: a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, esp. equally undesirable ones The ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Where/when did the *idea* of bad words come from in English?

Bad Words: f*ck sh*t *ss d*mn b*tch ... Ok, so there's no point in listing them all. The thing I'm interested in is this: Why is it that in English we have a strong sense of a group of words ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

When and how did “momentarily” come to mean “in a moment”, rather than “for a moment”?

"Momentarily" used to mean "for a moment" only, and not "in a moment". Thus, newscasters could be divided into two clear groups: those who would say "we'll be back momentarily," and those who would ...
1
vote
2answers
499 views

The history of the use of “man” [closed]

The pronoun 'he' used generically, as well as a lot of words including "man-kind" or generic "man" are sex-biased and are not acceptable. However, not so long ago, they were the proper used terms for ...
31
votes
3answers
20k views

Why use the word “copy” in “do you copy that”?

I notice "do you copy that?" is used in movies to ask for confirmation in telephone/interphone conversation. I only know copy means make things duplicated, so why use it in "do you copy that"? Is ...