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

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When did photos start? [migrated]

When was the first photos taken with the first camera? Some sites states that the first photos were taken in 1826 but some sites states that the first photos were taken in 1827. I want to know the ...
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When was the word “terrorism” first used?

When was the word "terrorism" first used in the world? I did some research but, the internet gave me two answers. The first one said it was first used in 1794. But, the second one said it was first ...
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Are the words victim and victor related?

They seem to come from the same proto-indo-european word "weyk", which has two separate meanings. Is this a coincidence, or are the words related?
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Is “blow wise to” a dialectal/archaic phrase? What is its etymology?

But blow wise to this, buddy, blow wise to this: Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom’s. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own. Never let ...
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Why does the word “Catholic” have two contrasting meanings?

catholic means including a wide variety of things; all-embracing. and Catholic means of the Roman Catholic faith. But whenever I hear the someone say, "I'm catholic", it's hard for me to ...
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On being “snatched” in slang

Connie Eble writes in UNC-CH Campus Slang 2016 on the word snatched: looking attractive: That outfit is snatched This is the earliest and only record Green's Dictionary of Slang lists as a ...
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Is harsh made from the word hard?

I had a test today an I was asked to complete “.... criminal” with a word formation for “hard”, I did it with the word “harsh”, is it correct?
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Earlier sources or identity of person who coined the term “neutrois”?

A lot of work I've been doing recently has been around the emergence of various gender identities. "Neutrois" recently came to my attention, with more information about it here: https://nonbinary....
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Scottish, English, why not *Walish?

As the title question asks, and particularly in light of the Old English word wælisc apparently used to refer to "Welsh", when, why, and how did the English adjective meaning "of or relating to Wales" ...
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Origin of the journalistic sense of scoop

The most common figurative usage of the the term scoop is related to news: In journalism, a scoop or exclusive is an item of news reported by one journalist or news organization before others, and ...
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Why does the word 'Well-to-do' mean 'rich'?

How has the expression 'well to do' developped the connotation of being 'rich'? Does anyone know the origin of this expression, which accoring to Merrian Webster, dates back to 1794, while ...
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Does English have digraph GN that does not come from Norman (Old French)?

I noticed that in English the digraph GN appears in a strange way. Some examples I can find are the word stems -cogn-, -sign-, -lign-, all of which looks very similar to French counterparts. By this I ...
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When was the concept of “junk” first applied to finance?

The term junk, used figuratively referring to something of little value, has been used in different contexts in recent decades. According to Etymonline junk food is from 1971, junk art is from ...
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Origin of the slang term “Becky” — was there originally a vulgar connotation?

Green's Dictionary of Slang provides only one 2017 citation for the slang term "becky." use of generic name to describe a white woman who is seen as using her inborn privilege as a means of ...
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When did “optics” begin to mean “appearance” or “perception?” [duplicate]

Before this century I had never heard the word optics used to refer to the way a situation is perceived. E.g., "The official hiring his son created terrible optics." And when I first heard it used ...
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Is “in the pipeline” an AmE idiom?

American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms defines "in the pipeline" as: In process, under way, as in The blueprints for the new machine are in the pipeline, but it will take months to get approval . ...
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How did English get related words from the same Latin root but different negative prefixes?

I see that there is no consistent rule in English for which words use which negative prefix, but in‐ is generally for Latin roots and un‐ is generally for Germanic roots. However, I find it especially ...
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Where did the word “brat” in reference to a spoiled child originate?

I've heard that the etymology is unknown as the original word refers to a garment and the old English word bratt a cloak. None of these seem to point to how it came to be used derogatorily.
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What is the etymology behind the name Vanessa?

According to Wikipedia: Vanessa is a feminine given name, especially popular in the United States, Germany and Brazil. It was invented by the Anglo-Irish writer Jonathan Swift for Esther Vanhomrigh,...
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What is the origin of the term EPK or Electronic Press Kit on movie productions? Any history welcome!

EPK stands for Electronic Press Kit, which I am defining as "recorded cast and crew interviews and other clips that capture the making of the movie to be used for publicity." Is that right? Next, ...
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1answer
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Why is the word 'heroine' not pronounced like 'hero-ine?'

Why is the word 'heroine' not pronounced like 'hero-ine' but instead like 'heroin?' It has the word 'hero' in it and it's the female equivalent of a hero. It's not like I use the word in public often ...
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How did the term “worthless” come by its current definition?

If I were to define the term "worthless," I would define it as "worth LESS" or "worth not a lot." But the actual dictionary definition is something like "worth zero." That's even less than "worth ...
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Origin, meaning, and derivation of 'boof' as a verb in U.S. slang

Recently, the following entry included in a page from a 1983 yearbook for a high school in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area has gained considerable notoriety in U.S. politics: Judge — Have ...
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About the AmE expression “pound the pavement”

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines the idiomatic expression “pound the pavement” as: (US Slang) to walk the streets, as in looking for work. and according to The American ...
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I used to go to Brighton

I understand what 'used to' means What is the origin of the 'used to" as in "I used to go to Brighton". I understand what it means but why 'used to'
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Origin of “It's a fair cop”

After coming across the following questions, Origin of “All right, what's all this, then?!” and Origin of “Well, well, well. What do we have here?”, my curiosity was piqued to try and discover the ...
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When did 'Robot' start implying a machine?

The word 'Robot' originated from a Czech author, Karel Čapek. He first uses the word in a play where robots are manufactured biological entities said to lack independent thought. However, after ...
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Do “brownie points” derive from food-rationed “brown points”?

The OED has this to say about "brownie points." Brownie point n. [probably a development < brown-nose n. at brown adj. Special uses 2, but popularly associated with 2 and hence frequently ...
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What is the 1896 source for the origin of “dyke”?

I've been doing research on LGBTQ+ terminology recently and I've come across pretty much the same sentence about the origin of the English derogatory/reclaimed term "dyke": a source from 1896 lists ...
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Double O patterns

I realised a few years ago how many words there are that have 2 'o's next to each other that mean something circular or at least very close to circular, as if the shape of the object may in some way ...
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2answers
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The meaning of mathematics from an etymological point of view

I study mathematics and I wonder what mathematics means. I've been searching for the definition and until now I haven't found something clear, so I decided to begin from the start. On Wikipedia I ...
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Nay good night! Does anyone know where this originates?

My aunt used to gasp, when shocked about something, "Nay good night!" I didn't understand as a child, but I have a feeling now, it means (roughly) not getting a good night's sleep over the shock or ...
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Why do we say “there is” denoting existence?

I am intrigued by the usage of the expressions there is/there are denoting existence. Specifically, I am curious about the reason why we use an adverb of place even when referring to things that ...
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Is “generative art” the best term for describing graphical techniques like ascii art or photo mosaics? [migrated]

I'm researching generative art using computers, and I'm looking to see if there's a more specific term for types of image manipulation techniques like ascii-art or photo mosaics that can narrow down ...
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Origin of the phrase “along for the ride”?

Please explain where this phrase comes from. What is the preposition "along" for? along for the ride: Participating but not actively, as in Don't ask me how long this job will take; I'm just ...
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Why is it called a literary cycle?

The word cycle itself is simple enough when used to mean something that returns to its beginning, something that loops. But how did it also gain the meaning of a literary cycle, defined as a ...
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What connection (if any) is there in Australian slang between 'dinkum' and 'dink' (meaning a ride on bicycle handlebars)?

In an answer to the recent question, What is the American equivalent of a "backie"? site participant Chappo notes that in Australia the word dink is sometimes used as a noun to mean "a lift ...
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Why is Odyssey “odyssey” but Iliad isn't “iliad”?

Why did "odyssey" come to commonly mean "journey" while Iliad didn't come to have any common meaning?
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Etymological history of “northmost” and “northernmost”

How did it happen that we have both northmost and northernmost? Was there a typo or mistake in a letter once, or was it a conscious decision to change the original word, or add a synonym to that word? ...
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Origin of “Godfather” in English

Godfather, often with initial capital letter, in the sense of a powerful leader, especially of the Mafia, appears to be relatively recent usage in English: In the Mafia sense from 1963 in ...
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To let some of my cats on the table

While reading J.L. Austin's book How to do things with words I found this (to me) curious sentence: ... and here I must let some of my cats on the table... The context seems to imply that the ...
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Origins of '[politician's last name] derangement syndrome' and of 'derangement' in the sense of 'insanity'

In recent months, Donald Trump has characterized critics of his administration as suffering from "Trump Derangement Syndrome"—presumably, an irrational hostility to anything Trump says or does. The ...
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How did the word “important” come to mean “significant”

I understand the word "import" meaning "to bring or carry in" from the Latin. I have also read sources which say that the word "important" comes from "importare" meaning "being of consequence" But ...
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What does schizo mean in “schizophrenia” and “schizo tech”?

TV Tropes says that the Naruto universe lives in Schizo Tech. The universe essentially mixes feudal society with modern technology (and clothing). The only exceptions are things like cars and guns. ...
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Why is a person who shares a house in the US called a roommate, not a housemate?

In the US, being roommates doesn't imply sharing the room. (Note: this question isn't about the situation where people share sleeping quarters, such as in a dormitory with separate beds but just one ...
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Scimitar or Cimitar?

I'm a cook at a restaurant. My liberal arts education combined with a classical culinary education helps me figure out most stuff on my own, but occasionally I'm unsure. The grey area, fuzzy logic. ...
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On the usage of “turn” in spy stories

The following meaning of turn appears to be common mainly in spy stories and, apparently, is present only in very few dictionaries. From the OED: (29. c.) definition of the verb turn (...
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Where does the name “Hot-dog” come from? [closed]

I am curious: where does the name "Hot-dog" come from? I was thinking about the food.
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Silent letters in English words [duplicate]

What is the origin of silent letters in words in English language ? Why are there silent letters?
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When and where was the word “backup” used in this form for the first time?

What is the etymology of the word "backup" (in the meaning of "a file copy" in computing)? I can't find the origin and the first using of this word in this very meaning. Why is "backup" so called? ...