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Questions tagged [etymology]

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

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Origin of 'mellontolatry.'

In the collection of essays, God in the Dock, C. S. Lewis uses the word "mellontolatry," which is defined as "worship of the future." This is the first instance of the word I can find. In other ...
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1answer
202 views

Who coined the term “YouTuber”?

I would like to know if there is a record that the word "YouTuber" appeared first time in history.
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1answer
405 views

He/Him/His VS She/Her/Her

How did her become the female equivalent of both him and his instead of only being a possessive pronoun like his? Is there a reason? For example: She likes him and his dog. He likes her and her dog.
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Etymology of “arse-smart” as a name for the water pepper

Today I learned that water pepper (Persicaria hydropiper, L. 1800) is otherwise called "arse-smart" in English: PERSICARIA, Arse-smart The Characters are; It is a Plant with an apetalous ...
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3answers
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How did 'cast' semantically shift to mean 'turn'?

I was researching the etymology of caster (n. 2), which contends that 'cast' had 'the old sense of "turn."' Then I researched cast (v.) and read that it originally signified "to throw, throw ...
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456 views

Words originating with Thomas Hardy

I'm teaching a Thomas Hardy class and read somewhere that Hardy was the originator of over 100 common English words in use today. However, I can only find a list of a few. Does anyone know where I can ...
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1answer
66 views

Is “fiddle” a frequentative form, and if so, of what?

Having recently learned about frequentative forms, I began to wonder, is fiddle a frequentative form? I've seen the suggestion that -le in this case was a pre-English formation, but the meaning "to ...
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2answers
70 views

Origin of “on” to mean “powered”

When did the word "on" start to mean "powered"? An example of this would be "The lights are on."
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1answer
81 views

The contrasting meanings of the word “chill”

One meaning, the one that I've always known and thought about it when someone said the word "chill", was "very relaxed or easy going" with the example "in general, I am a pretty chill guy", as given ...
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How old is the word “upskirting”?

In the comments section of this question the subject derailed slightly: is the word upskirting dependent on today's technology or is it older?
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2answers
106 views

When did “serie” become obsolete in English?

Why is series both singular and plural in English? In the other languages I am familiar with, serie is the singular. This includes Spanish, French, German, and Italian. However, it is series (in a ...
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1answer
37 views

When was the expression “or something” first used?

What evidence of sentences ending with "or something" recorded ANYWHERE from 1800-1900 including in England, and what are the earliest written attestations during the 19th century in any of the U.S, ...
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How did the word “Soviet” end up with an -ie-?

The Etymonline entry for "soviet" states: 1917, from Russian sovet "governing council," literally "council"… Likely I am not the only one to wonder about the reason behind the apparent difference ...
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If -ment suffix is from Old French, then why does it form nouns instead of adverbs?

The suffix -ment forms nouns from verbs, e.g. entertain → entertainment. A similar suffix exists in French (and -mente in other Romance languages) that forms adverbs from adjectives, e.g. sûr → ...
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2answers
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When and by whom was “stage diving” coined?

Stage diving is the practice of jumping from the stage, usually in a rock concert, to be caught and carried aloft by the crowd. From: houseplanet.dj According to Wikipedia this practice was ...
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1answer
99 views

What is the origin of the expression “I'm a fast read”?

I have encountered the expression "I'm a fast read" in recent American literature, articles and blogs. I understand the meaning, but given its unusual phraseology (using read as a verbal noun), I am ...
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68 views

Why 'corner' in the idiom 'Round the corner'? [closed]

I know the idiom round the corner means very near. My question is, why round and corner? What is the connection between 'round' and 'corner'?
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2answers
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Etymology of 'black'

I saw a news article on ABC news that made the claim that "if you go back far enough in time", the word 'black' used to mean 'white' and has the same origins as the French blanc and English bleach. ...
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2answers
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Use of “the same”

Thank you for sparing your time to watch this one. I'm having a problem with this sentence - "I see the same through your glasses as I do through mine" here "the same" seems to have been used as an ...
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1answer
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What does it mean to patch cables or devices together?

In the below context: Finally had the time over the weekend to patch everything down and sort out the sockets. ... I managed to get my trusty router patched in with ...
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1answer
182 views

Etymology of Juggernaut

I was wondering what the etymology of Juggernaut is. I think it is derived from an Indian Language. Would you be able to describe: Which language this word is from The root from which this word ...
3
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1answer
46 views

Origin of “crooked” meaning grumpy

In Newfoundland, the word "crooked" (pronounced crook-ed) is used to mean grumpy either as a temporary or permanent characteristic of an individual. It is used in the sense of "getting up on the ...
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Schools and Shoals

School, as a group of fish, entered Middle English: late Middle English: from Middle Low German, Middle Dutch schōle, of West Germanic origin; related to Old English scolu ‘troop’. (NOAD) Shoal, ...
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1answer
168 views

Origin of “Beating a dead horse”

The origin of beating a dead horse. Was this ever a common practice suitable for a specific purpose? Is it related to the desire to spur a horse into action?
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“turnt” and “turnt up”

Time for another American English slang term I picked up from the YouTube comments (emphasis in bold mine) "well... i gave her a vicodin." reminds me when i had a cold and my dad gave me a sip ...
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Use of “Well…” instead of “What?” in response to being summoned [duplicate]

In the 1940s and 1950s, if Mother were to call for one, "Oh, Jamieeee?", one was to respond "Well, Mother..." and never "What, Mother...?", the latter being considered vulgar and ill-spoken. Locale ...
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Origin of the saying “The hawk is out”

There is a brisk, chill wind blowing in my part of the world, and I was reminded of the saying: "The hawk is out" Some people claim it originated in Chicago in black communities, but I have only ...
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1answer
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Would Limnlight make sense instead of limelight? [closed]

I am familiar with the term limn: limn /lim/Submit verbLITERARY past tense: limned; past participle: limned depict or describe in painting or words. suffuse or highlight (something) with ...
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1answer
87 views

What does a native speaker imagine when hearing “lunatic cat”?

Is "lunatic cat" like "crazy cat" or "it's nonsense, they don't say so", or something else? According to https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/lunatic there is a connection to the moon (see "...
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4answers
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Why “god” in godparent?

I'm looking for the etymology of words like godparent, godchild, etc. In particular, why "god" is added as a prefix? So far I haven't found an explanation. Wiktionary (for godfather) states: From ...
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2answers
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What's the etymology of 'hire purchase'?

I understand, and am not asking about, the meaning of 'hire purchase': A system by which one pays for a thing in regular instalments while having the use of it. North American term instalment ...
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1answer
50 views

What do the bold numerals in parentheses mean in Merriam Webster Dictionary? [closed]

Here is the specific word I am referring to: The bold numerals in parentheses are under the 2nd definition. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/just Are those sub-sub senses? Or are they ...
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1answer
71 views

Why's a call option called 'call', and put option called 'put'?

I'm asking about etymology, and not what these options are. The answers beneath don't feel convincing; can't 'call' and 'put' be interchanged in them? I'll abbreviate Call Option to CO, and Put Option ...
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1answer
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Origin of 'dap' shoe

What is origin of 'dap' as name for canvas shoes which is used in parts of England such as West Country & Wales? The Chamber Dictionary has the following entry but no suggestion for its origin: ...
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3answers
150 views

Does the prefix “pre” connote negative meanings? Examples: “Presage” vs “sage”, “pretext” and “preclude”

I came across the word "presage" through the Vocabulary Builder as below presage (v.) presij to indicate something (usually bad) is about to happen. The sudden loss of jobs presaged an ...
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5answers
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Usage of the phrase “I clutched my pearls”, esp. for males?

I came across with a phrase, “clutch one’s pearls” in the headline of the Hill (January 6). It reads : “Dem lawmaker: ‘Kind of odd’ for GOP to be ‘clutching their pearls’ over profane call to ...
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2answers
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Why are tax returns called tax returns, and is the term applicable outside the US?

I have a problem with the term tax returns regarding its genesis and use in international communication. 1) Genesis and logic I do not understand the logic behind it. As far as I see, "tax returns"...
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3answers
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About the word 'finewirer' and researching obscure words

I can't seem to find anywhere where I can look up reliably the meaning and etymology of this word: finewirer. A quick search on Google gives you uses of this word in texts such as Terry Pratchett's ...
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1answer
593 views

Origin of “the grass is always greener”

Earlier versions of this well-known proverb, according to “writingexplained.org”, include: A Latin proverb cited by Erasmus of Rotterdam was translated into English by Richard Taverner in 1545, as:...
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use of “animal” as a synonym for mammal

While watching episodes of the old game show "What's My Line," circa 1957-1962, the very literate panelists regularly use the word "animal" to mean "mammal," as in "Do you work with fish as opposed to ...
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Why is it gerontology and not geronology?

I hope this is the right place to ask this, if not please give a feedback. According to the Wikipedia, the term gerontology is made up from two parts, geron and -logia, which mean respectively "old ...
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550 views

Was the word “communist” used prior to Marxist/Leninist writings?

The word 'communism' and 'communist' were certainly popularized by the title of 'The Communist Manifesto' by Mark and Engels. But was the word 'communist' used prior to Marxist writings? Or was it ...
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2answers
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What is the history of using “Jersey” for “New Jersey”?

I have long wondered the origin of calling New Jersey by the nickname "Jersey". To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever shortened New York or New Hampshire to "York" or "Hampshire", or ...
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2answers
338 views

A twist of fate

I’ve spent the last few days savouring the phrase “A twist of fate”, either there isn’t much written about, or it is swamped by other people using it. From what seen on the internet it seems to be ...
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2answers
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“I hope she hangs the moon”

I am always on the watch out for new unfamiliar idioms, especially in American English, and today I found one “to hang the moon”. "And so she's now talked about a lot," McCaskill added. "I'm not ...
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1answer
96 views

When was “off-world” / “offworld” coined?

"Offworld" meaning "not on the main, current planet" is a term in some sci-fi works, and several works have been named using it, like "Offworld Trading Company" (a video game). The word definitely ...
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1answer
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Is there an etymological connection between the English “arachnid” and the French “arachides” (meaning peanuts)?

What is the etymological connection; between "arachnid" (the English scientific term for insects that include spiders), and "arachides" the French word for peanuts ? Thank you
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What is the origin and scope of usage for the phrase “how about..”?

It’s unclear to me how those two words even make sense together, yet they can be used to suggest something akin to “..and now this” in almost any propositional phrase. Where does this come from / ...
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Is it technically correct to call an almond drink “milk” in English?

For the past few years in Italian supermarkets, we have all sorts of "healthy" and "organic" alternatives to dairy milk for vegans and for consumers who are lactose intolerant. For example; soy milk (...
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“Hello, welcome in” as opposed to “Welcome”

In the past year, I have noticed an interesting trend with some of the stores that I have shopped at with my fiance; when you first walk into the store, an employee will be at the door greeting ...