Questions tagged [etymological-fallacy]

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1 answer
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Aren't English' "shoe" and French' "chaussure" related?

I was absolutely certain that shoe (en) and chaussure (fr) were cognates due to the obvious similarity between their first syllable, especially the pronunciation - that was until I looked them up on ...
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5 votes
1 answer
318 views

Subjunctive in English. Is it used for politeness?

The usual explanation I get for expressions such as "How much did you want to spend, sir?" is that the use of the past tense produces a distance between the present reality and the question, ...
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4 votes
0 answers
683 views

Etymology of "get off your duff"

The phrase "get off your duff" is a call to action. The recipient of this exhortation is (literally or figuratively) sitting, unmoving, and is being asked to get off of his buttocks, as seen ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
45 views

Learning new words via etymology [duplicate]

if I learned the “true meaning” of a word via etymology, would it help to get all its possible meaning in any context?
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-2 votes
2 answers
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More modern, accurate word for "portfolio" of investments

My portfolio of investments under-performed the major stock indices. Common usage of portfolio to refer to a collection of investments seems etymologically wrong, since a portfolio is literally a ...
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9 votes
7 answers
3k views

Is it true that etymology is the leading tool to understand the correct use of words?

In discussions about the meanings of words I often find participants bring up the etymologies as though they are conclusive deciding factors. On the other hand there is concept of the "...
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