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Questions tagged [etymology]

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

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6
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3answers
963 views

Origin of the word “delete”

What is the history of the word "delete". It's from Latin "deletus", but I wonder how and why this word was borrowed in English. Usually, words directly borrowed in English are from religious, ...
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1answer
30 views

red handed war: is “red handed” specific to blood?

In my impression it is generally accepted that "red handed" referred to the blood-red evidence found on a thus discriminated criminal. Then, what does "red handed war" mean? New-York daily tribune....
6
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1answer
174 views

Origin of old English word “offrian”

I know that Latin and old French are implicated, but where does the old English "offrian" come from? I mean: what is the word evolution from the root? Which root exactly: why this "ian" ending? ...
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0answers
40 views

Meaning of the phrase “theatre of pain”

This BBC article says Anfield has also been nothing but a theatre of pain for Guardiola since he arrived in England What is the origin of this phrase? It sounds quite gruesome. I'm aware of ...
0
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1answer
78 views

Why is documentation the “castor oil” of programming?

I found an unusual use of "castor oil" in this sentence, which seems to be a common maxim: Documentation is the castor oil of programming. What is the role of castor oil in this sentence? Is there ...
0
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0answers
25 views

Two words “swallow” [duplicate]

What is the etymology of the words "swallow" denoting a bird and "swallow" which means the action of eating something?Why do these words concide?Is there any connection between them from a point of ...
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2answers
46 views

Why does the word “incident” have a negative connotation associated with it?

I'm trying to find why we consistently use the word "incident" with a negative connotation. All definitions of the word state something to the tune of: an individual occurrence or event. By this ...
0
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1answer
55 views

Where does the expression “money talks” come from?

According to the The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms the saying “money talks” meaning: Wealth has great influence, may derive from: The idea behind this idiom was stated by ...
2
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0answers
69 views

Term for/etymology of the opposite of a nosism (using 'we' to mean 'you')

A nosism is the term for using 'we' to refer to oneself. I am looking for a term for/etymology of using 'we' to mean 'you'. EDIT: Another way of putting it is that I'm looking for the proper term ...
0
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1answer
51 views

Meaning of the word remarkedly?

Was just wondering whether 'remarkedly' is a word or not. When I typed it in Office Word it doesn't come up as a spelling error but I can't seem to find anything about it online or a concrete ...
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0answers
27 views

What are the roots of the different meanings of the prefix mis-?

The prefix "mis-" seems to have both multiple meanings and origins in English. The Online Etymology Dictionary talks about its Germanic and Latin origins, but Webster's mentions a Greek version of "...
0
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1answer
58 views

Rendezvous with Ray [closed]

Rendezvous is one of the English words whose pronunciation is nothing to do with its spelling .I have come across the word in the lesson Rendezvous with Ray I have understood ...
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0answers
27 views

What is the mummers play Galatian? [on hold]

I was looking into the etymology of the word: Galoshans. The Scots Language Centre mentions: In the Dictionary of the Scots Language www.dsl.ac.uk Galoshans is defined under its original name of ...
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2answers
83 views

First use of American football fields as measurement

In some books and documentaries, American football fields are used as units of measurement for length (100 yards) and sometimes area. For example, a book might say The iceberg was the size of six ...
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0answers
49 views

Is there a word for when a usage change orphans a definition?

Is there a simple way to describe the phenomenon when usage of a word or expression changes in such a way that it leaves the original concept without a word to describe it? As usage evolves, ...
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0answers
30 views

Which regions say “on the button” vs. “on the nose” vs. “on the dot”?

Anecdotally, I've noticed that Brits/Aussies favor "on the nose" (though sometimes in a sarcastic way), while mid-west/west-coast Americans say "on the button", and east-coasters say "on the dot." Is ...
2
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2answers
71 views

Jasper as a synonym for wasp

I recently heard a friend refer to a wasp as a “jasper” I’ve never heard of this before, and haven’t been able to find anyone else who uses this term. Is this usage of the word “jasper” meaning wasp ...
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0answers
50 views

Where does the adverb suffix -ly come from?

German does not have an adverb suffix, so I would guess, there was a time when English had none as well; however, I could not find anything on the Internet about it. If I was right, does someone know ...
3
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0answers
58 views

Postillion as the ‘cut card’?

A postillion is the 'cut card' that protects the bottom card in the pack in games such as poker. The standard definition of that word is: a person who rides the leading nearside (left-hand side) ...
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0answers
28 views

Seque and Sequel - is there a term for pairs like these?

Seque and Sequel - is there a term for pairs like these? ... verb and noun just a letter (or two?) apart? (Versus other verb noun pairs which are spelled the same such as 'laugh', 'escape', 'light'. '...
4
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2answers
63 views

Etymology of 'vanity unit' / 'vanity table'

A "vanity unit" is basically a table that can either be below a sink or just in a bedroom that contains drawers. It appears to have no obvious link with the standard definitions of the word "vanity". ...
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4answers
2k views

What is the Greek etymology for “-on” in words like “proton” and “neutron”? [closed]

Google says "proton" is from "protos" and "-on" ("first" + "being"), or "πρῶτος" and "?". What is the "-on" in Greek, is it "ὤν" or "ἐν" or something?
0
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1answer
55 views

What are some commonly used expressions used in English, that originate from latin or else?

I am not sure what I am specifically asking for, Basically I'd like to get a list of these special expressions, from you, because I can't seem to find one. NOT ASKING ABOUT THE USAGE of these that I ...
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1answer
53 views

When does the idiom 'breathed new life into' originate from?

My assumption is it derives from Genesis, but even if that's the case, what I'm really wondering is at what point did it become a common idiom in English, that could be used in contexts that don't ...
0
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1answer
47 views

Why is 'you' considered plural? [closed]

The pronoun 'you' can be used both as a singular and a plural pronoun. However, it is never paired with 'is' and always with 'are'. Why is it that 'you' is considered plural? My guess would be that ...
3
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1answer
75 views

Diffidence, a false friend

I’ve recently erroneously used the term diffidence with the meaning of distrust. Diffidence is one of the terms called false friend and, as a matter of fact, the same term in French defiance and ...
3
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1answer
48 views

On the etymology of “Stereophonic”

I've taken a dive into the field of "stereolithography" of late. If I am not entirely wrong that "translates" to "durable stone writing." And that makes a lot of sense, given what stereolithography ...
10
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2answers
176 views

How did the meaning of “consultant” shift from asker to askee?

Reading a different question about the opposite of the word consultant made we wonder why the word shifted semantically from the asker to the person who answers? From Etymonline: consultant (n.) ...
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0answers
53 views

Why are reverb effects referred to as “wet” or “drippy”? [closed]

Reverb is a type of natural effect you can get playing in wide open spaces, giving a sort of echo/reverberation as the name implies. But I'm referring more to emulated reverb through use of a guitar ...
0
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2answers
152 views

What is the justification for the difference between “venom” and “poison”

In the last few years an Internet meme has been going around that "poison" is a substance that has a negative effect when ingested, while "venom" has to be injected. Ergo, "poisonous snakes" should ...
5
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2answers
245 views

Can something that is one-of-a-kind be “rare”?

Perusing some for sale listings of guitars, many of them are Custom Shop, i.e. built to customer specification and not off the wall production models. By definition, these are one-of-a-kind ...
12
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2answers
2k views

In the old name Dreadnought, is nought an adverb or a noun?

The name Dreadnought, a class of naval ship, originates from the eponymous HMS Dreadnought. Wikipedia indicates that Dreadnought's name, and the class of battleships named after her, means "a ...
2
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2answers
88 views

Origin of the phrase “close to the bone”

I need to find out the earliest use of the phrase, “close to the bone”. Etymonline and other online dictionaries don’t give details about its earliest usage.
2
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1answer
62 views

auspicious vs auspicial - why two of them and etymology

I always knew the word auspicious. A colleague of mine used the word auspicial and I thought this was a spelling mistake. I made a search and am seeing it in a lot of dictionaries. Does anyone ...
2
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2answers
102 views

What is origin of the phrase “Don't say boo” or “Didn't hear boo”?

I've very infrequently heard the expressions: "Don't say 'boo' [to them]" (meaning don't say anything, no matter how small or insignificant) or "I didn't hear 'boo'" (meaning I didn't get any ...
7
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1answer
264 views

Demod as a neologism

Moderator is a very old term in the sense still popularly used nowadays: Meaning "one who acts as an arbitrator, person who presides at a meeting or disputation" is from 1560s. (Etymonline) ...
2
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2answers
90 views

Is there a word that could mean both serious and humorous?

I'm creating a project on character traits, and the person that I'm writing about is funny yet serious. I didn't know if there was a word for that, so I'm asking for help.
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2answers
45 views

What is the origin of the phrasal verb “rope into”?

e.g. “I was roped into doing it” From what I can find on the web, “know the ropes” originates either from sailing or theatre. “On the ropes” may originate from boxing. The one article I found ...
2
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0answers
54 views

“Gentle confines”

Where does this phrase come from? It's something I use (usually ironically) and something that's "just there" in my lexicon like "fit as a fiddle". However when I Google it, no origin pops up. It ...
4
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1answer
92 views

Why is 'lavender' used to reference homosexuality?

I am aware of Lavender Linguistics, which is a form of Polari and was used by gay men a lexicon 'used in the 1950s and early 1960s by gay men as a secret language which concealed their homosexuality ...
6
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2answers
180 views

Why do Australians and NZers call snacks/lunch *crib*?

From another question I found out that Australians and New Zealanders call lunch and snacks crib. On the Macquarie dictionary site, there are several (user contributed) theories about why, but ...
4
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1answer
126 views

Where does the outdated “thing-O-thing” come from?

In many an outdated medium one may come across words such as gram-O-phone or shear-O-matic. Where does this 'tradition' of having the O seperated come from? Does this stylistic choice have name? I'...
3
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1answer
164 views

What made “gusto” popular?

Gusto is a foreign term which the English language appears to have borrowed twice: 1620s, "very common from the beginning of the 19th c." [OED], from Italian gusto "taste," from Latin gustus "a ...
3
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3answers
345 views

What is the origin of “blink” meaning short-range teleporation?

In many games and even 1998's Charmed, a blink ability is the ability to instantly teleport several feet in front of you. Where did this term come from? Why is it "blink"?
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0answers
59 views

Word request (historical) - net worn by ancient soldiers

I am looking for a word for a net worn by soldiers in ancient times hanging down from their helmets, sometimes too long as resting on shoulders. (Please, refer to the picture annotated by red arrow ...
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0answers
36 views

What is the origin of the term “good-bye? [duplicate]

Where did the term “good-bye” come from and what does it originally mean?
2
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1answer
107 views

Master to mister?

Why was Master weakened to Mister so as to address individual hominēs sapientēs and the English language lost the thou/you distinction while the Greek language kept both Kύριος intact and the Eσύ/...
16
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3answers
2k views

What’s the British English for “shotgun wedding”?

The expression “shotgun wedding/marriage”, as described in the following link, is an American English one. Of American-English origin, the phrases shotgun wedding and shotgun marriage denote a ...
1
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1answer
68 views

pretty: How did its Old English etymon semantically shift from 'a trick, wile, craft' to its Middle English etymon 'manly, gallant'?

Etymonline contends the semantic shift is 'uncertain', but what semantic notions might've underlain 'a trick, wile, craft' with 'manly, gallant'? pretty Old English prættig (West Saxon), ...
3
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2answers
55 views

How did 'pretty' semantically shift from 'beautiful' to 'not a few, considerable'?

Etymonline and OED don't expound what semantic notions underlie beauty and momentousness. Connection between Old English and Middle English words is uncertain, but if they are the same, meaning had ...