Questions tagged [etymology]

Etymology is the history of the origin of words and phrases.

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4
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1answer
34 views

Origin of the saying 'It's a soda'?

We say that something is easy (in Australia at least) by saying that 'it's a soda?' What is the origin of this please? Why soda?
4
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Is there a reason for the “9” in teen slang “code 9”

Various websites that monitor teen slang have taken notice of a mostly text-based form of communication via the number nine, where code 9 or CD9 means, essentially, that parents or authority figures ...
0
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1answer
41 views

What is the background of the phrase “To get one's house in order”?

I know humans used to have "Houses" comprised of people rather than structures, similar to the Klingon fashion. House of Mogh, House of John, etc. Is this house of people the house that needs to be ...
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616 views

What are the first usages of “thong” as a wearable item of clothing, both on the feet and on the waist?

What are the first usages of "thong" as a wearable item of clothing, both on the feet and on the waist? Tracing thongs as worn about the waist seems to lead to the Jazz Age and the "Chicago G-string",...
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Where did “a racist bone in [one's] body” and “a mean bone in [one's] body” come from?

A recent tweet by the U.S. president includes this assurance: I don't have a Racist bone in my body! A blog post by David Graham, "The One Color the White House Sees Clearly" at The Atlantic ...
4
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What is the first documented use of the gay culture term “daddy”?

According to Wikipedia, "daddy" is a slang term in gay culture meaning an (typically) older man sexually involved in a relationship or wanting sex with a younger male. There are currently, however, ...
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origin of: sleep tight, make sure the bugs don’t bite

Where does the phrase sleep tight, make sure the bugs don’t bite come from? Is it part of a longer poem? A Google web search didn't reveal anything useful. I'm not a native speaker of English, I don'...
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English comparative words (than, so, as, and maybe like): why are they so weird?

I promise this is an actual, answerable question. But I want to explain myself when I call these specific words "weird"; English is so often "exceptional" that referring to any particular part of it ...
5
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First usage of “honey pot” or “honey trap” in the context of espionage

I have seen both "honey pot" and "honey trap" used by le Carre and Forsyth in their novels, and as both are ex-spooks, I am assuming this was the terminology. It describes a person who is used as a ...
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How can James Joyce's 'word' “egourge” be seen, via Greek, as “worker for the self” or “self-employed”?

In Finnegans Wake, James Joyce uses the 'word' egourge (p.g. 49-50), which syntactically yields ego-urge, which makes sense semantically. Finnwake.com claims that egourge also derives from "egoourgos ...
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1answer
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Why is the antonym of “within” not “without”

I'd suspect that many people would agree with the statement that the antonym of "in" is "out", except for some peculiar situations perhaps. My natural chain of shower-thoughts led me to the word "...
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How did a Greek 'table' become an English 'trapeze'?

I had cause to investigate the word trapeza in Greek and I was intrigued as to how it had evolved into the meaning of 'trapeze' as we use it in modern English and I thought I would pass this on : ...
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3answers
82 views

Origin of the phrase “Don't rain on my parade”

I am watching the "Salute to America" parade staged by President Trump to celebrate the American Independence, and and given the weather, I was thinking about the idiom... "Don't rain on my parade" ...
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2answers
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First use of phrase, “That’s not going to fly.”

Would anyone one be able to ferret out the first-known use of the phrase or idiom, “That’s not going to fly”? Thank you.
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How did “Papa” become “Pope”?

Pope, according to Etymonline is from: Old English papa (9c.), from Church Latin papa "bishop, pope" (in classical Latin, "tutor"), from Greek papas "patriarch, bishop," originally "father." ...
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Why is there paternal, for fatherly, fraternal, for brotherly, but no similar word for sons?

If paternal is "relating to someone's parents", and fraternal "relating to someone's brothers", is there, or why isn't there, a word for "relating to someone's sons", i.e: sunternal Sentence example: ...
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2answers
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How can “nerve” (n) both mean “courage” but also “nervousness”?

I was looking at the definition of "nerve" from the google dictionary (simply search "define nerve" on google in order to see it), and I got two definitions of it that are quite the opposite of each ...
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“tired” = “feeling wheeled”

German has the expression "sich wie gerädert fühlen", which is an allusion to torture on the breaking wheel, i.e. an expression of feeling drawn-out and weary; "wie gemartert". Naturally, I associate "...
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1answer
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“Privative” meaning “a concept of absence” [on hold]

In The Science of Discworld, Terry Pratchett uses the word "privative" in an unusual sense: a concept defined by the absence of something. Darkness is the absence of light, cold is the absence of ...
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1answer
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Phrase origin: “You ain't got to go home but you got to get out of here.”

You ain't got to go home but you got to get [the expletive] out of here. Variations of the above phrase are very popular and a common cultural reference — seen in many movies, TV shows and music ...
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My worries turned to none/nothing

My worries turned to none. My worries turned to nothing. Are both these sentences stated correctly? I think the first one might be wrong due to the definitions of none, but it doesn't sound too ...
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Origin of “ight” [duplicate]

So many words end in "ight", such as "light", "might" and "sight". I am curious about this -- is there an etymological reason why "ight" is used for many seemingly disparate words? Thanks.
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How does 'bear off' explain the etymology of 'berth'?

Which meaning of 'bear' befits 'bear off' below? Please see the titled question, and in the screenshot beneath of the OED page for 'berth'. The punchline's the red underline in the screenshot: A ...
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1answer
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Does English “sludge” relate to “slough” (swamp)?

Does English “sludge” relate to “slough” (swamp)? They both of uncertain origin. "sludge" means mud and "slough" means muddy.
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What is the origin of “Psych!”? [closed]

What is the origin of the phrase “Psych!!!” like when someone is saying something jokingly and they’re taking it back? Often believed, by those who don't understand the term's origin, to be spelt (...
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How did 'phat' come to be used in music as slang?

most prominently things like ''phat bass line'', meaning a bassline rich in texture ie has a full sound. Appears to have originated in African American use?
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Why `kitchen` instead of `cooking room`? [closed]

Most room names contain room, like bedroom bathroom living room dinning room sunroom Why kitchen instead of cooking room? :p
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1answer
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Origin of the phrase ''Respect,man/bro. ''?

Respect bro!! , you never hear anything like ''Fear, man'' or ''honesty, man.'' used in the same sense, its interesting.
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Is Latin “porrige” connected to middle ages “porridge”? [closed]

Is Latin word "porrige", to stretch, connected in any way to "porridge", the cereal made by stretching oats/ grain by adding water?
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1answer
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What is the difference between the terms ‘basic’ and ‘fundamental’?

I am reading an article titled “Basic needs, basic rights” in which the author emphasises on the need of a robust doctrine of basic rights in addition to fundamental rights. Source: https://www....
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1answer
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why does “perturbation” mean small change while “perturb” means greatly disturb?

I only recently looked into the etymology of the word "disturb", which means "per-turb", completely (through, thoroughly) + disturb, which translated into "disturb greatly in mind". My question is ...
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1answer
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Where did “yeppers” come from?

Where did the slang word "yeppers" come from? I have googled it and found dates as far back as the 30s and geographic areas including Florida, the midwest and Pennsylvania.
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What does “-t” in “bight” mean? [closed]

Wiktionary says, that "-t" in "bight" is a variant of "-th" suffix (bight = bought = bough + t) but I think, that "-t" in "bight" is an Old English past participle ending of "bow". Is my hypothesis ...
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1answer
169 views

Origin of 'cuz' as shortening for cousin?

Detailed answer please and thank you. I see this used a lot among youth. I'm interested to know whether it originated in the Southern US or not?
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1answer
105 views

Why do people seem to get so triggered at the word “plebeians”? [closed]

While having online conversations people seem to get triggered when the word plebeian is used to describe the commoners or common people. They seem to think its bad or something. What's wrong in ...
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Why is there a word for 'H'? [duplicate]

Why is there a word for the letter H, but not for the other letters? In Lexico–formerly Oxford Dictionaries–for example, H = aitch, as in ‘drop one's aitches’
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What is the first usage of the word “doobie” in OED? [duplicate]

It is almost impossible to get a clear answer to this question in the US online. For example: Ted and Fay were smoking a doobie to clear their heads before going out.
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1answer
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Cuff word origin

I was wondering if the origin of the word (cuff/ to cuff) is Arabic as it exists in Arabic, pronounced exactly the same (kaf) and has the very same meaning (folding the end part of the sleeve or/and ...
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1answer
89 views

Etymology of the expression “to entertain an idea”

The expression to entertain an idea/thought/etc. has perplexed me for a while now. Given the meaning of the verb entertain, I find it quite weird for it to be used in such a way. So, how did this come ...
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Definition, Origin, and Extent of “Matter” as a title in Literature

Why was "Matter" chosen for the Matter of Britain, the Matter of France and the Matter of Rome? What would the exact definition of "Matter" be in this instance? Written/Printed Material, or a Theme/...
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1answer
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Origin of the phrase “What's crackin'?”

My web search turns up accounts of it being Southern, Black American or/and Aussie slang. Would like some clarification on this.
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Back and book etymology

I know, that most of you will think, that it is absurd, but please read to the end. Sorry for my English Introductory: When I read the Ostrog Bible I saw, that in the OCS the verb "to unbend a book"...
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Origin of “someone is a character”

The Collins Dictionary has If you say that someone is a character, you mean that they are interesting, unusual, or amusing. I haven't been able to find an origin of this usage. Where does it ...
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What does “handsome properties” mean?

I have come across the phrase in H.D.Thoreau's book "Walden or Life in the Woods". The passage is following: "I one evening overtook one of my townsmen, who has accumulated what is called "a handsome ...
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How did 'consideration' shift to signify grounds and the act of deliberation, then inducer of a grant or promise?

Frederick Pollock. Principles Of Contract. (1902) p. 170. p. 220/400 here.         The name of Consideration appears only about the beginning of the sixteenth century, and we do ...
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How did “pissed” come to mean “drunk” or “angry”?

How did "pissed" come to mean "drunk" or "angry" in expressions such as: "I'm pissed" OR "I'm pissed off"? All dictionaries I consulted just gave that definition. So, does it have anything to do - ...
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Origin of the phrase “stone cold loser”

I have googled but can't find any reference to this. Does anyone know the origin of this phrase (recently used by Trump to refer to the London Mayor)
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What did “Aryan” mean in the 1930s?

Anthony Burgess once said, (through the narrator of one of his books…) “The term Aryan has a purely philological significance. It can be applied only to languages.” -Earthly Powers pg 371 The ...
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What are the ancient (obsolete) names of the “book spine”? [closed]

What are the ancient (obsolete) names of the "book spine"?
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“Call” as a noun that is not for naming or ringing up

Although I now know the meaning of "call" in these examples: You need to make a judgement call Not this time sorry, though it was a close call What do we do now? Your call — they were quite ...