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13

It's a matter of historical origin and subsequent development. In the oldest recorded English deer belonged to the neuter declension, which did not have a distinct plural ending in the nominative and accusative cases. (It is believed that this declension did have plurals in Proto-Germanic, but they disappeared before English or any immediate ancestor was ...


5

There is! It's the Glasgow Historical Thesaurus of English, the world's only historical thesaurus. We published it through OUP in 2009 as the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, and is also freely available online at http://www.glasgow.ac.uk/thesaurus - we also provide a whole bunch of additional information and visualisations there, too. ...


4

As the answer to the more general question of whether singular they is proper English notes, the construction enjoys a long history of usage in English. In fact, the Wikipedia article on singular they has a section on the history of its use, and specifically calls out Austen as one of the respected, pre-modern authors who used they with a singular ...


4

This allusion is an example of “handwriting on the wall”, which warns of future events, usually calamitous. The related Biblical passage is from Daniel, chapter 5, a chapter that portends the end of King Belshazzar's reign. Verse 5 describes the event. From Biblegateway.com: Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of ...


4

Languages change. Otherwise, we'd still be speaking like Chaucer. The British settlement of America started in the 17th century; there has been lots of time since then for several different American dialects to develop. The British settlement of Australia and New Zealand started over 100 years later, which is why these dialects are closer to those spoken in ...


4

OED doesn't mention skewen or skewn, which means that the use is extremely local. Every dictionary has a lower limit below which they don't list a word; OED's is very low indeed. However, the entry dates from 1911 and an update is awaited. Their earliest citation for skew in the sense "crooked, oblique" is 2.a. To take an oblique course or direction; to ...


3

I grew up in the Seattle area, 1960s-1970s, and we always called the rubber sandals thongs. I moved to Boston in 1987, and they were called flip-flops, there. When I returned to Seattle in '92, I started hearing flip-flop, and now I never say thong other than around family members who know what I'm talking about.


2

An instance of precisely this use is the common 18th- and 19th-century abbreviation by London financial traders of Exchange (referring to the Stock Exchange or the Royal Exchange) to ’Change , most often in the phrase on ’Change. A quick troll through Google Books suggests that in the 18th century both the apostrophe and the capital were used or omitted ...


2

During the 19th century, "achee" was also used for the sound of a sneeze. The earliest citation the OED has is 1843 for a-chew. And here we have earlier and simultaneous uses of atchi and atchee. Google books search shows that atchee continued being used into the last half of the 19th century. 1826: Enter Tallboy, sneezing. Tall. Atchi ! — here — ...


2

The majority of the people who populated Australia and New Zealand (and English South Africa) didn't speak whatever was the RP English of its time anyway (Kentish perhaps), they spoke all different dialects of English including Irish, Scottish, Northern, Western and probably even Brummie. Imagine all those people stuck together having to converse with each ...


2

My experience is similar to yours; I had to see at least five dictionaries to find one that did not list plants. Wildlife: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: wild animals and vegetation, especially animals living in a natural, undomesticated state. Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers: ...


2

I don't think anyone has addressed the part of the poster's question that asks, "What are its origins?" so I'll focus on answering that. J. A. Simpson, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs (1982) offers this lineage for the proverb: All's fair in love and war [1578 LYLY Euphues I. 236 Anye impietie may lawfully be committed in loue, which is ...


2

Agnostic: in an information technology (IT) context, refers to something that is generalized so that it is interoperable among various systems. The term can refer not only to software and hardware, but also to business processes or practices. The word agnostic comes from the Greek a-, meaning without and gnōsis, meaning knowledge. *In IT, that ...


2

To follow up on John Lawler's comment on the OED. They did make rather expensive historical thesaurus, which I myself own.


1

I don't know if Federal Statues apply, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service monitors activities under the Endangered Species Act. In Section 3 of this Act: (8) The term “fish or wildlife” means any member of the animal kingdom, including without limitation any mammal, fish, bird (including any migratory, nonmigratory, or endangered bird for which ...


1

A good answer of StoneyB. I can only add that the lack of distinction between plural and singular forms of some old nouns (which logically must have this distinction) exists in many languages and can be traced back to the ancient state of the language, where the same word was used to describe both the class of elements and one particular element. For ...


1

It appears that the use on 'skewen' as past participle of to skew is local/ regional since it is a regular verb. Probably from its Middle English origin. To skew: ( regular verb) skewed, skewed. is to turn or place at an angle. When you build a house of cards, you must slightly angle, or skew each card, so structure will stand up. From the ...


1

I think the reason that you find predominantly two major forms for sneezing (ending in [i:] and [u:] may be because most sneezes sound more or less like one of those two. I can vividly imagine a sneeze with either sound, so I find it very likely that the common onomatopoeias are reflecting that variation. Bear in mind that the Dutch and German examples that ...


1

In the 1970 movie "Patton", George C. Scott's title character said the quote & cited Mr. Shaw by name as the source in a speech during wartime England. While I admit it isn't 100% irrefutable. I'm willing to bet the screenwriters were probably old enough to have heard or read about it first hand to make it work in the script. The fact that they used Shaw ...



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