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Questions tagged [etymology]

Questions about tracing out and describing the elements of an individual word, as well as the historical changes in form and sense which that word has experienced over its history. Please use the 'phrase-origin' tag for phrase/expression origins.

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Etymology of "banged-up" = "imprisoned"?

1. What is the etymology of banged-up = "imprisoned"? Briefly googling, I couldn't find any etymology. (I'm guessing it came from the banging sound of the gate/door as one is locked up?) ...
user182601's user avatar
-1 votes
0 answers
83 views

etymology of dragon [closed]

According to etymonline, dragon is from the old French dragon, which was derived from the ancient Greek word drakon. Why did the letter k change to g in old French but didn't change back to "c&...
zzzgoo's user avatar
  • 287
0 votes
0 answers
6 views

Obstacle hinder hemper annoying how do you call a person who always try to put obstacles in your way and prevent you from reaching success [migrated]

How do you call a person who always try to put obstacles in your way and prevent you from reaching success??? Obstacle? Hinder?
VeitSulu's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

Was the phrase "white Christmas" indeed coined in the song?

It's well-known that the song White Christmas - Irving Berlin, 1942 - is one of the world's most popular songs by any of many measures (only McCartney's Yesterday wins in some measures). Apart from ...
Fattie's user avatar
  • 10.7k
18 votes
3 answers
2k views

Origin of "That tracks" to mean "That makes sense."

For the past few years, I have been hearing people say "that tracks," meaning "that makes sense." My search on Green's Dictionary of Slang yielded nothing with this clear meaning, ...
RaceYouAnytime's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
74 views

Why is there a ‘silent e’ in the word ‘minute’ (as in minutes and seconds)? [duplicate]

In researching the silent e, is the silent e added to the end of the word minute (as in minutes and seconds) to indicate the schwa sound of the u? Or was the silent e pronounced at some point?
Tonya's user avatar
  • 9
12 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the origin of the idiom "say the word"?

I am interested in the origin of the phrase "say the word" in the sense that you will do what is asked when needed. For example, "when you are ready for a second helping of dinner, just ...
dmkerr's user avatar
  • 175
7 votes
2 answers
335 views

Why is “cold X” a bad thing and “hot X” a good thing in English?

There are many, many terms in English that include hot or cold in them. I will give a small sample of such terms: Hot hot job hot fix hot offer warm regards Cold cold calls cold emails cold hearted ...
Free Palestine's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
53 views

Why is the Quran text called verse? [closed]

I know that the Quran is not comparable to poetry style because it's divine, but why is the text of the Quran called "verse" ? I couldn't find any information on it. And in Arabic it's ...
Mike's user avatar
  • 175
22 votes
3 answers
2k views

Etymology of the verb 'lint' in the context of programming where it means to apply static code analysis to detect code smells

In the context of programming, a 'linter' is a tool that analyzes code to detect potential code errors or coding anti-patterns or organisational style preferences etc. To 'lint' is a verb meaning to ...
dwjohnston's user avatar
  • 11.2k
-1 votes
1 answer
64 views

What's the meaning of "QTY"? [closed]

I found the abbreviation "QTY" in an assay (not essay!😊). Can you tell me the meaning of this abbreviation? How can I paraphrase/explain it into ordinary words?
POP POP's user avatar
  • 131
0 votes
2 answers
104 views

dry writing phrase origin, original texts

Is there any origin for the phrase "dry writing" that supposes it was writing created without the influence of alcohol? I only see the idea dry as in barren https://www.etymonline.com/word/...
Alex's user avatar
  • 153
0 votes
1 answer
58 views

What is the origin of the "one" pronoun

There are many pages of questions on the "one" pronoun, so I apologise if this has been asked before. I would like to know the origin of the "one" pronoun. Ideally as much info as ...
Rabbi Kaii's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
59 views

Has "shut" ever meant "open"? (Bear with me, please)

I'm an English language/literature student in a non-English speaking country. As a final project for a literary translation course, my class is taking turns to translate some of the fairy tales ...
mrs-gump's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
67 views

Lightoff to speak about an engine start

Why the term lightoff (or light-off) is used to describe the moment an engine ignite/is started ? I'm wondering why the suffix 'off' is used in an 'ON' sense (start, ignition) ? Is there a ...
Vincent's user avatar
  • 11
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why did the original ‘d’ in the word ‘weather’ (< Middle English ‘weder, wedir’) change to ‘th’?

The word weather originally had d in place of th. This is visible from the Middle English attestations weder and wedir, as well as from other Germanic languages. For instance, German Wetter can be ...
FlatAssembler's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
28 views

When did 'Sprog' became a word for meaning a child? [duplicate]

My son was born in 1978. I started calling him spriggle sproggle then became sprog. Called my son Sprog from his birth, 1978, I had not heard of word apart from then. A good few years later I started ...
Rosemary Lamanna's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
141 views

How did "dream" become a verb without the same thing happening to "nightmare"?

You can say I had a dream and you can say I had a nightmare. But then you can say He is dreaming, yet you cannot say He is nightmaring....you have to say He is having a nightmare. Why is that? How did ...
temporary_user_name's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
91 views

Etymology of "guard" as a position in grappling

In grappling martial arts and combat sports, particularly Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the word "guard" refers to a type of body position on the ground. In a guard position, one person (the one who &...
ragged-swinger's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
2k views

Does 'puggled' mean tired or drunk?

I received an email from Scotland with the word 'puggled' in it and had to look the word up, despite having been brought up in Scotland until the age of eighteen. The OED states the meaning as 'tired' ...
Nigel J's user avatar
  • 24.8k
5 votes
1 answer
147 views

Who was the original Dr. Feelgood, and what did he practice?

I am interested in the emergence and evolution of the slang term “Doctor Feelgood.” J.L. Lighter, The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang (1994) has this entry for the term: Doctor ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 165k
2 votes
1 answer
90 views

Do I get it right that "a flash in the pan" has two rather opposite meanings?

One is a complete failure, either apparent from the beginning or something that appears promising but turns out to be disappointing or worthless. A misfire, on a musket's priming pan. A fool's gold ...
Col. Shrapnel's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
86 views

Is Weasel Poo on a Door Knob a Recognised Expression? [duplicate]

The heading says it all. I have seen the above expression (or a few variants) used to describe something smooth, whether a person, or a literal surface. An example, When it comes to women, Alex is ...
Della's user avatar
  • 345
9 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is the History, Context, and Implications of the Term "Moonspeak"?

I am part of a team that manages a repository named "moonspeak". The team is reflecting on the names and terms we use and since we're driven by a solid commitment to Diversity, Equity, ...
Avogadro's user avatar
  • 217
2 votes
1 answer
109 views

Etymology and meaning of the word "but" in the sentence

What the origin of but as it is used in following sentence? ...as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth Is it meaning is close to yet or although or it has independent ...
demsee's user avatar
  • 97
2 votes
1 answer
65 views

How come that "bimonthly" means "twice a month" and "every two months" simultaneously? [duplicate]

What's the story behind this word, and how did it end so ambiguous, while other languages differ? There's already "Bimestral"why does every dictionary still uses "once every two months&...
Yosyp's user avatar
  • 21
0 votes
1 answer
78 views

What's the etymology of "noddle"? And is "noodle" a derivative?

Dictionary.com defines noddle as: noun Older Slang. the head or brain. What is the etymology of this slang? I've never heard the term "noddle" before, but I have heard the term "...
Scott Mitchell's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
180 views

What does the word "leggit" mean?

I've just finished Call of Duty Black Ops II, and there was one word whose meaning I couldn't find even on the Internet. This is leggit, and it's a verb. I have a link to a YouTube video with this ...
user500689's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
60 views

What's it called when person A's shoulders are in person B's shoulders in a reassuring way, and B's hands are on top of person A's hands?

What's it called when person A's shoulders are in person B's shoulders in a reassuring way, and B's hands are on top of person A's hands? If there's not a word please help me describe it in a clear ...
lila.popelier's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
166 views

When did "light (something) up" begin to mean shooting?

I was wondering if it would be period accurate if depicting someone like a soldier during World War I or II to say "light them up" to shoot the enemy and at what time the term came into use.
Dude Bruh's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
33 views

History of word “equity” and the path to its contemporary use [duplicate]

I think the Latin root “equi” means on the most basic level “the same” or “equal”, but I’d like to see references and evidence for this. I think financial use of the word “equity” has been quite ...
Julius Hamilton's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
50 views

Relationship between sw- and w- phonesthemes

Consider the following pairs of English words: whirl - swirl whoosh - swoosh wipe - swipe (and maybe "sweep" too) wag - swag (as in the motion) wing - swing (maybe) I am aware of ...
Siddharth's user avatar
  • 123
4 votes
1 answer
140 views

What is the etymology of the sense of 'key' in 'key a surface', 'provides a key for the paint'

The sense of the word 'key' I'm referring to is illustrated in the following sentences taken from the internet: Would a thorough abrasion with a wire brush suffice to key the surface? [verb; spelling ...
Edwin Ashworth's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
91 views

What is the origin of the term "post" as in "post a journal to the general ledger"?

I understand what it means to post a journal, but I'd love to know the origin of the term. I've not been able to find an explanation from Google. My intuition is that it might refer to a historic time ...
Daniel's user avatar
  • 113
2 votes
1 answer
61 views

How did we come to use at, on, in for time as we do now?

Contact me at 5 o'clock on a Monday in the new year There are many resources which explain the rules about which preposition to use for time phrases to English learners, e.g. We use at with: with ...
minseong's user avatar
  • 3,526
-4 votes
0 answers
97 views

Where's the first attestation of the distinction between "hardcore" hentai and "softcore" ecchi?

The Wikipedia articles on both "Hentai" and "Ecchi" (the "Western usage" in particular) do not provide much clarity on this. Etchi in Japanese as far as I can tell is ...
Vun-Hugh Vaw's user avatar
  • 5,401
0 votes
1 answer
60 views

What s, if any, the type of noun modifier for the receiver of a verb

I'm looking to find what it is called when a noun is modified by a prefix/suffix to mean that it is someone who receives x. And also, if there are examples of it in languages that are simple. The best ...
Durakken's user avatar
  • 121
4 votes
1 answer
127 views

Etymology of Mecca

Most dictionaries just list it as "from Arabic", with the better ones providing the script مكة or a transcription showing that it's actually pronounced Makkah in classical and modern ...
lly's user avatar
  • 10.3k
15 votes
3 answers
2k views

Was "coven" used as a term for a group of witches in 1608 or was another term in use?

I am writing a screenplay set in England in the year 1608. In one sentence I used the word coven (a group of witches), but according to Etymonline this word started to be used from 1660, or 52 years ...
Dylan Lozano's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
68 views

Why ternary not ternal?

Why is is the base-2 numeral system called binary, the base-3 one called ternary, when base-8 is octal and base-10 is decimal? The different suffixes, -ary vs -al, are what I am concerned about.
minseong's user avatar
  • 3,526
2 votes
2 answers
118 views

When did the expression "he gets up my nose" originate?

Google fails to locate any etymology source and no dictionary online provides an answer.
Keith Chapman's user avatar
-1 votes
2 answers
148 views

Authoritative source for distinction between 'collaboration' vs. 'cooperation'? [duplicate]

The question of how collaborate and cooperate differ (if at all) seems not to have a straightforward answer. It was asked before on this site as What's the difference between "Collaborate" ...
user1362373's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
122 views

OED 3e: 'Etymology' and 'Meaning & use' for "goto" [closed]

When trying to search for "goto" on merriam-webster.com or dictionary.com, it redirects to go-to. Often, entries will state that what you were trying to search for is a common misspelling, ...
Maybe's user avatar
  • 173
0 votes
1 answer
89 views

Are the words act and fact cognates?

According to Google, fact comes from Latin factum, which comes from facere, while act comes from agere via actual. But I remember reading something that said that they come from the same word, and a ...
TylerDurden's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
113 views

Are the words elision and ellipsis related etymologically?

Are the words elision and ellipsis related etymologically? For some reason Wiktionary hints at no despite the two words' appearances. I know there meanings have kind of become conflated in the modern ...
languagelover3000's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
105 views

When is the phrase "Guest Recognition Expert" from?

I have noticed that some hotels now have jobs for guest recognition experts. Apart from the fact that I find it very hard to understand exactly what it means by just reading its constituent parts, I ...
Simd's user avatar
  • 2,501
1 vote
0 answers
39 views

Origin of suffix name

I always have difficulty to remember the meaning of suffix (end part of a word), in the context of a word. So, I looked for the origin of the word suffix, but to be honest I don't understand it: What ...
joan's user avatar
  • 209
0 votes
0 answers
51 views

The etymology of doctoring text [duplicate]

I was gutted today that I failed The Times crossword on one clue - "writings not considered genuine", which I've now come to know is "apocrypha". While trying to give a clue to ...
roganjosh's user avatar
  • 297
2 votes
4 answers
454 views

What is the origin of the phrase "Into thin air"

The meaning of the phrase is well known and can be found in several online dictionaries including Cambridge and Merriam Webster. To disappear without a trace. It appears in Shakespeare's Othello and ...
Peter Jennings's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
581 views

When and where did “First against the wall…” originate?

background The phrase: You’ll be first against the wall, when the revolution comes or, Come the revolution, you’ll be first against the wall and variants thereof, particularly the shortening & ...
Dan Bron's user avatar
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