Hot answers tagged

121

This is called a Rube Goldberg machine. From Wikipedia: A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered or overdone to perform a very simple task in a very complicated fashion, usually including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg ...


79

They would be a "breakroom", or "break room" a place where staff go when they have their breaks. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/breakroom


60

In the UK I have heard this referred to almost exclusively as the "canteen". The dictionary definition for canteen states: "a restaurant provided by an organization such as a college, factory, or company for its students or staff." However, even when working in organisations where there is no food service (nor even a vending machine), I have still heard it ...


57

Sean (written "Seán" or "Séan" in Irish) is a Hibernization of the English name "John"; that is, it's a transliteration of "John" into a form which can be pronounced in Irish and written with the Irish alphabet (which nowadays is simply a version of the Roman alphabet). The Irish language does not have the sound /ʤ/ (the sound which ...


48

In this context (greater Toronto) greater means “an area greater than the city itself” and “greater Toronto” is a shortened version of “the greater Toronto area”. Greater describes/modifies area rather than Toronto, giving a size contrast (greater) rather than describing the goodness of the city (great).


47

Lunch room lunch room n. a room, as in a school or workplace, where light meals or snacks can be bought or where food brought from home may be eaten. Source


46

There seems to be no "official" word. You will find " nibling ", by analogy with sibling. (But it is mentioned only in the "New Words & Slang" section of Merriam-Webster, or in site like urbandictionary.com) This thread also mentions: that there is no encompassing word for aunt/uncle either that there is no male/female form of cousin. the article ...


43

Matt's answer here is close but off in a few regards. The semi-Anglicised Sean is formed by removing the fada (accute accent) from the Irish name Seán. It is a Gaelicisation (more specific than Hibernisation) of the Norman-French name Jehan which makes it cognate of the English John with both coming from the Old-French Jehan but in the case of the English ...


36

The simple answer is... Alfred Tennyson was created a hereditary baron, 1st Baron Tennyson. Barons are known by their title, Lord Tennyson, preceded if necessary by their Christian name. The same applies to current Life Barons, who are not created with hereditary titles. Thus it's John, Lord Prescott of Kingston-upon-Hull. Sons of hereditary peers are ...


36

Your cousin's first son is your first cousin once removed. It is quite confusing!


34

The most useful rule — and the most general and the easiest to remember — is simply that you add ’s whenever you actually say an extra /əz/ at the end when forming the possessive, compared with how you say the non-possessive version. Let your own ear be your guide. That’s all there is to it. No fancy rules full of exceptions. Just your own ear (as a native ...


34

The -sex suffix is from Anglo-Saxon / Old English, with the actual meaning being "Saxon". Sussex is essentially "South Saxon". Middlesex is "Middle Saxon". Essex is "East Saxon". Wessex is "West Saxon".​​​​​​​ Most of the wiki pages for these places will have the toponymy definition.


30

Consider cafeteria. a lunchroom or dining hall, as in a factory, office, or school, where food is served from counters or dispensed from vending machines OR where food brought from home may be eaten. (Random House) a dining area, as at a school or office building, where meals may be purchased or brought from home and eaten. (AHD)


28

Great means big, greater means bigger. So Greater Manchester is the larger metropolitan area around the city of Manchester in the middle. However, Great Britain is the larger of the two separate and distinct Britains, the other being Brittany in north-west France. In French, Great Britain is Grande Bretagne and Brittany is just Bretagne. Brittany has also ...


27

No Jennifer is from From a Cornish form of the Welsh name Gwenhwyfar (see GUINEVERE). This name has only been common outside of Cornwall since the beginning of the 20th century, after it was featured in George Bernard Shaw's play 'The Doctor's Dilemma' (1906). GUINEVERE From the Norman French form of the Welsh name Gwenhwyfar, composed of the ...


27

This word has an almost identical connotation but seems to have shifted in meaning in modern American usage towards almost requiring that the thing/person in question is named after whatever/whoever is mentioned. (Wikipedia:) Namesake is a term used to characterize a person, place, thing, quality, action, state, or idea that has the same, or a similar, ...


26

This is called Hypocorism. A hypocorism is a shorter form of a word or given name, for example, when used in more intimate situations as a nickname or term of endearment. English forms nicknames in a variety of manners. Shortening, often to the first syllable: Abraham → Abe Anthony → Tony Benjamin, Benedict → Ben, Benny Carolyn → Carol, Lyn, ...


25

You generally ignore that the underlying word has an irregular plural, so it would be "the Wolfs". (This is the same rule as for irregular words in compounds where they aren't the main noun: "mongooses" is the plural of "mongoose" even though "goose" has an irregular plural.)


22

While you may choose a nickname to differentiate in daily use, for legal or genealogical purposes, she is a "junior." According to Wikipedia: The most common name suffixes are senior and junior, most frequent in American usage, which are written with a capital first letter ("Jr." and "Sr.") with or without an interceding comma. The British English ...


22

Christen means to name, or to dedicate ceremonially. Also dub means to honor with a new title (as in "I dub thee Sir Gawain, Knight of the Round Table")


21

Here is a definition of a riding hood from Webster's Dictionary: Riding hood. (a) A hood formerly worn by women when riding. (b) A kind of cloak with a hood.


20

It's not just that article. Here's a book which has it: Bread and ale, both packed with calories and nutrients, lay at the heart of all diets, and ale barm was so vital that it was sometimes known as godisgoode 'bicause it cometh of the grete grace of God'. Searching for the last quote, I found a site with this information: In her splendid book on ...


20

I think this is a mild hyperforeignism that comes from an attempt to pronounce “Naomi” more like the original Hebrew: nah-oh-mee [na.o.mi]. The [ao] sequence is uncommon in English—and because there are two separately stressed syllables in this case, they cannot merge into ow [aʊ]. Thus an epenthetic /y/ [j] sound appears, giving nah-yo-mee [na.joʊ.mi]. This ...


20

It's your name. You can express it however you like. On the periods (or full stops) between initials, though: it seems that they're still common in the US, but have largely been dropped in most of the rest of the English-speaking world. It also depends on house styles: some US papers, for example, still refer to the B.B.C., which just looks weird to UK ...


19

I think you are referring to a chain reaction machine: A Chain Reaction Machine uses natural forces, like gravity and elasticity, to make something happen. The chain is a series of simple devices like a pulley or some dominoes that knock into each other. The idea is to put together a few of these devices so that they go off one right after the other, ...


19

Consider, formerly. in time past; in an earlier period or age; previously. Random House Jane Miller formerly Smith WikiTree


19

That's a relic from previous versions of the name. From Etymonline: John masc. proper name, mid-12c., from M.L. Johannes, from L.L. Joannes, from Gk. Ioannes, from Heb. Yohanan (in full y'hohanan) lit. "Jehovah has favored," from hanan "he was gracious."


18

Area 51 is a military base in Southern Nevada often found at the center of UFO stories. From Wikipedia: Area 51 is a military base, and a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base. ... The intense secrecy surrounding the base, the very existence of which the U.S. government barely acknowledges, has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories ...


18

Posted as answer, as requested: I think that 'the sun' counts as a name. There's only one; we refer to other giant, bright balls of hydrogen as 'stars'. In fact, you capitalize Sun if you're referring to it in an astronomical context


18

The answer is that the expression is based on how we, as humans, interpret geography. We refer to smaller, relatively unknown areas by the name of a larger, more well-known, area the smaller area is near. By saying "Greater Toronto", we identify the city of Toronto and the smaller areas close by, at the same time acknowledging that these smaller areas are ...



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