Tag Info

Hot answers tagged

16

The word "denigrate" is no more racist than the words "niggling" or "niggardly", but there are many semi-literate people who will disagree. The use of the latter terms has led to astoundingly stupid accusations of racism and has caused at least one political aide to actually resign his position. See ...


14

The OED says it's "after German schwanen(ge)sang, schwanenlied". Being the OED, they're probably right. They give the meaning as: a song like that fabled to be sung by a dying swan; the last work of a poet or musician, composed shortly before his death; hence, any final performance, action, or effort. "swan, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, ...


13

All letters in English are silent. Letters are visual signs, and they don't make any noise. What you're all peeving about is the fact that Modern English spellings don't represent Modern English pronunciations. And it's true; they don't. That's because they represent Middle English pronunciations. Before Caxton set up his printshop in England in 1470 ...


11

Are we racist when we say Jesus was the light of the world? If so, the predominant religion of African-Americans is hopelessly racist. I think there is a real difference between the association of ambient light and darkness with positive and negative emotions found in people throughout the world and the fact that some people have different coloration. For ...


7

This is a list that I, a speaker of standard southern British English, compiled some time ago: b: debt, subtle, lamb, tomb c: science, rescind, muscle, indict, Leicester, Connecticut ch: yacht d: sandwich, Wednesday, grandson g: gnaw, gnome, sign, phlegm, reign h: heir, hour, dishonest, ghost, annihilate, vehicle, hurrah, rhyme, khaki, thyme ...


4

Explaining to a 5-year-old English spelling is quirky. English spelling tends to be more influenced by how people spelled words over a thousand years ago than by how we pronounce the word today. Yes, that means that word pronunciation has changed drastically over time, and our language today is not the same as the language that was spoken back then. One ...


4

The "less" suffix there is not a comparative, but from the Old English suffix "-leas" meaning "to be without, lacking".


4

I hesitate to call this an expression when it only gets 22 hits on Google. Apparently it was said on an episode of Big Brother Canada 2, but it’s by no means a set phrase in the vernacular. It’s an ad-hoc formation that combines two elements: “pissy pants” – a somewhat redundant though nicely alliterative extension of “pissy” (AmE slang) meaning “foul ...


4

You need to revisit your list. It's erroneous. Silent letter is a letter that, in a particular word, does not correspond to any sound in the word's pronunciation. Please consider the various comments above and also these silent letters. F/J/Q/V/Y: There are no words (I could recall) that take a silent letter. R- Yes, there are no words in ...


4

Rubber: Sense of "deciding match" in a game or contest is 1590s, of unknown signification, and perhaps an entirely separate word. (from Etymonline) . I guess that on the origin of the usage of the term 'rubber' in sports there are only speculations available. I post the following interesting one from the world of lawn bowling: The sporting term ...


3

Its origin is actually from the card game 'rubber bridge' where in a three-competition game one team wins once it scores 100 points or more. If that is done before completing the three competitions, the remaining one is said to be dead rubber. Dead rubber: is a term used in sporting parlance to describe a match in a series where the series result ...


3

This word ultimately comes from Greek, as the "y" and "ph" in the spelling suggest. The phant part does indeed carry the meaning of "something/someone that shows", from the Ancient Greek verb φαίνω "phaino" meaning "to show".The "syco-" part is believed to have come from the word for "fig", but it is somewhat mysterious how the word developed from ...


3

The original question was asking about silent "z" and silent "m" Silent "z" occurs in recent French loans: "laissez-faire", "répondez s'il vous plait" and the already mentioned "rendezvous". Silent "m" occurs in initial Greek-derived mn-: "mnemonic", "Mnemosyne", but is pronounced after a prefix (amnesia).


2

Money burns a hole in my pocket. The Phrase Finder shows very old usages of the idiom, which clearly suggest a sense of urgency to get rid of something because it is supposedly too hot: "It was only a bit of change, but it was plainly burning a hole in his pocket." As though it were something hot, he wanted to pull the money out--and get rid of it ...


2

references Etymonline dates broker late 14c; and adds: broc meant in addition to "that which breaks," "affliction, misery." Opinions seem to be divided on the exact meaning of broker. Some etymologists believe that the expression is derived from the Anglo Norman brokour meaning "small trader". However, others claim it is derived from the ...


2

My favourite pair is "canon" (=rule) and "cannon" (=weapon). Both from the same Greek word (kanna) meaning a reed, probably from a semitic root. I think that is an awesome stretch of meaning.


2

From the article "Who You Callin Ratchet?" found on The Root: What arguably started as a Southern rap dance at the turn of the century and then expanded to describe a relatively positive expression of energy has now become a worthy rival to the word "ghetto." It is most typically used to describe outrageously uncivilized behaviors and music -- often with ...


2

The word "denigrate" is not racist. Furthermore, you are misusing the word "racist". The word "racist" means "someone who believes that one race is superior to another". The word "denigrate" simply means "to demean" with no implication as to who is being demeaned or why. People often mean "prejudiced" when they use the word "racist". Your question would ...


2

The origin of the term 'calzone' meaning 'pizza calzone' is not clear. Actually calzone is the augmentative form of the term 'calza' which means stocking. The idea is that of a 'Christmas stocking' filled with food, a popular idea in the south of Italy. As Mari Lou rightly pointed out, the stocking full of gifts we are referring to comes from the ...


2

The Greek root words in sycophant are sukon and phainein, the latter meaning "to show". Your words are indeed related by this root word, as are fantasy, phenomenon, diaphanous, emphasis, epiphany and others.


1

Background on nonidiomatic ‘untrack’ and 'untracked' Although Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary series takes no notice of untrack prior to the 2003 Eleventh Collegiate, untracked as an adjective appears in Noah Webster, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language (1806): Untracked, a. not tracked or marked out, untrod The larger American ...


1

As a first stab, I did a Google ngram on "derivative work". This phrase was virtually never used until about 1960. its usage shot up dramatically during the 1970's, and continued to increase since then (except in the mid '80s.) Typically, a new connotation begins with somebody mentioning it in print or voice, and others picking it up, until a momentum is ...


1

I think it would be helpful to ask: what is the primary referent of the word 'black'? That is, what is it that most people are referring to in most contexts when they say the word 'black'? Is it a particular group of people whom we have qualified with that term, or is it the very colour itself, such as the black colour of the night sky? I would suggest it ...


1

In my humble opinion, questions like this get complex. As others have pointed out, the historical origins of a word do not necessarily determine how the word is understood in modern English. Also, people routinely use words like "black" and "white" and "dark" and "light" without any intention to reference race. If I say, "I have a night light because I ...


1

It's possible it's an idiom from the time. Remember that the phrase is over 400 years old. Looking in a dictionary today may not show the implied meaning as understood by people from that time. But there are lots of things like that in English, and we use them without thinking. Referring to something as being "cool" as an example. A really "cool" car. ...


1

I was discussing this with my danish father, the danish word for table is Børd as in smorgasbørd, so we guessed it came from there. The danish word for lodgings is logi. We summised that a board game may have also been a derivative meaning table game.



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible