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.

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6
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4answers
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Transformation Of The Meaning Of the Word "Idiot"

The historical core meaning of the word "idiot" was a person with a low IQ to a developmentally disabled degree. This sense of the word is now used infrequently as it is considered rude. ...
11
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4answers
4k views

Which "bra" came first?

Most people associate the word "bra" is an abbreviation of "brassiere". But in science "bra" is a type of vector which is part of bra-ket notation. I think it sounds a ...
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0answers
28 views

Meaning and etymology of “weak streak”

What is the meaning and history of the phrase “weak streak”? Example (midway through a page describing a man) “There was a weak streak; he liked to consider himself a ladies man.”
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1answer
57 views

What is the etymology of the phrase "Scraping the bottom of the barrel"?

I've known this phrase to mean roughly "Using ideas which are bad". The Collin's definition seems to be "to be forced to use one's last and weakest resource". I've seen claims that ...
4
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2answers
91 views

Where, when, and how did the term 'dogie' for 'orphan calf' originate?

Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) has this brief entry for the word dogie: dogie n {origin unknown} (1888) chiefly West : a motherless calf in a range herd In seeking an ...
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0answers
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Is “slang” slang for “shortened language”? [closed]

I’m interested in knowing the etymology of the word “slang”. Is slang really a slang for shortened language?
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0answers
30 views

Is there any sense in which 'enumerable' is distinct from 'denumerable'?

Oxford English Dictionary has ▪ I. enumerable, a. (ɪˈnjuːmərəb(ə)l) [f. enumerate v. + -able.] That can be enumerated; having a definite number; numerable; spec. in Math. = denumerable a. Hence ...
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0answers
59 views

What is the origin of the word "assassin"? [duplicate]

Etymological sources that I've looked at variously state that it comes from either hashshāshīn ("those who consume hashish") or asāsiyyūn ("those of principle"), both from Arabic. ...
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0answers
41 views

What is the origin of "hash" in "hashing algorithm"? [closed]

What is the etymology of the word "hash" in the sense of the hashing algorithms used extensively for security and encryption in the modern world? I know a possible etymology for the word ...
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0answers
43 views

Jury: oath-takers or judges? [closed]

Familiar as we may be with the modern jury, the right to judgment by peers is set forth in the Magna Carta: NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or ...
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0answers
55 views

How did the word "impart" come to be associated with "store"?

Merriam Webster gives the definition of "impart": to give, convey, or grant from or as if from a store I've never heard/seen the word described that way before. How is it connected to ...
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2answers
35 views

Where does the expression to ‘Commune with Nature’ come from? [closed]

This expression today is associated heavily with a sense of peace or wellbeing that is experienced through being in nature. I am curious to know it’s origins and other early uses. If I guess, the term ...
4
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1answer
128 views

What is the origin of the term "red team" for a group simulating an adversary?

In information security, the military, etc., a "red team" is a group that plays the role of an adversary in a simulated engagement (with the "blue team" on the other side of the ...
4
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2answers
240 views

What's the etymology of "pother"?

What is the origin of pother (meaning commotion/uproar)? Almost all dictionaries I've on hand have nothing substantial (they mostly cite "of unknown origin") to say on this score. Etymonline ...
3
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3answers
374 views

Why does the phrase "as well as" mean "in addition to"?

The phrase "as well as" means "in addition to", e.g. in the sentence "I'd like a banana as well as an apple". I did some Googling and found it's the modern spelling of ...
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3answers
70 views

Is there a general rule for a phrase like "I am not a big movie person"? [closed]

I've been trying to find a general rule for these sorts of expressions: I've never been a big movie person. He's never been a big New Year’s resolution person. I can't find any dictionary or grammar ...
1
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1answer
71 views

Why arithmetic does not end up with s? [duplicate]

Usually disciplines end up with s: mathematics, ballistics, genetics, gymnastics, linguistics, logistics, optics, politics, semantics, statistics, etc. A simple question: why did arithmetic not end up ...
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0answers
17 views

Etymology of words in translations [migrated]

Maybe this should be in linguistics but I'll try here... I have had this idea for a long time but productivity has never been part of my character. I'll take full credit of the idea and I am willing ...
1
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1answer
93 views

The history and origins of “a peck” and “to peck”

Until recently, I had assumed that peck denoted a small quantity or size. (noun) to give someone a peck is to kiss them lightly on their cheek. (noun) Lexico says that peck was slang for food (...
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6answers
3k views

Did Peter Piper steal a peck of American pickled peppers?

In the children's renowned tongue twister, which was first published in London 1813, we learn Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter ...
11
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5answers
1k views

Origin of “on tilt”

Farlex Dictionary of Idiom gives the following definition about the expression: on tilt: In a reckless or rash state; acting without proper care, attention, or consideration. and adds that: ...
2
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2answers
160 views

"Screw" slang terms — are any socially acceptable?

There are a number of slang terms that use the term "screw". Pulling from an answer on this site: screw-based [slang terms] abound: you can screw something up (mess it up), you can be ...
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3answers
853 views

What is the origin of the phrase "circular firing squad"?

I've found many definitions online of the term, which the OED says is "used in reference to a situation in which a group of people are engaged in self-destructive internal conflicts and mutual ...
3
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2answers
53 views

The word "miracle" suggests, through common usage, a positive thing. Has it always? Or, like "awe", did it used to simply mean "momentous"?

Oxford asserts the word comes to us from Latin's miraculum, or an ‘object of wonder’, which in turn derives from mirari (‘to wonder’), itself a conjugation of mirus (‘wonderful’). Since "wonder&...
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2answers
125 views

How did "sand" come to mean courage/pluck?

How come sand means courage/pluck? There isn't much information available on the Internet regarding its etymology. With word etymologies I think the buck stops with the redoubtable World Wide Words, ...
6
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1answer
352 views

What is the origin/meaning of the term "color" in corporate earnings calls?

What is the origin/meaning of the term "color" in corporate earnings calls? Some examples: ChipMOS Technologies Ltd (IMOS) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript: S. J. will chair the meeting and ...
13
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7answers
329 views

What is origin of the term “dry” to mean lack of a sweet taste?

I am aware that “London Dry” is a style of unsweetened gin and that this has influenced how we talk about other drinks. I am interested in why the word dry was initially used in this context to ...
12
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4answers
1k views

What is the origin of the idiom "Put on a clinic"?

I was rather fascinated by the idiom put on a clinic (meaning to perform extremely well) when I heard it used today for what I'm sure was the first time, because it sounded so cool. More than that, I ...
5
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1answer
140 views

What is the origin of "huge"?

What is the origin of the word huge (adj. and adv.) meaning "very great, large, or big; immense, enormous, vast"? Both OED and Etymonline say that it might be from an Old French word which ...
3
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1answer
42 views

What is the origin of "out of sight" or "outa sight" in the sense of amazing/unbelievable?

I had thought that "out of sight" or "outa sight" in the sense of amazing originated in the 1960s. I was surprised to find it used frequently in Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of ...
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2answers
44 views

Passionarity vs Passion, are they the same origin? [closed]

Is the origin of passionarity and passion the same? It seems like these two words are very similar, but have different meaning.
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1answer
102 views

How did English come to use a variation of the Polish spelling for Czechoslovakia?

In English, and a few languages influenced by English (e.g. Malay, Samoan, Yoruba), the name of the former European country is spelled "Czechoslovakia". That isn't how it is spelled in other ...
2
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1answer
50 views

Etymology of "nasal specs" as a synonym for "nasal cannula"?

For context, this is in the UK—I was told by someone they had been given "nasal specs"—which was the term they had been told when they got them, and then I asked someone I know who is a ...
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0answers
68 views

Origins of "trim the tree"

The expression "trim the tree" in the context of Christmas means "decorate the tree." It seems an odd verb to use, since "trim" usually means to take material away rather ...
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0answers
32 views

What is the etymology of "market capitalisation" [closed]

I want to ask a question about the term 'market capitalisation'. In finance, this term is used to often refer to the total "value" of a company, expressed by multiplying the number of shares ...
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0answers
60 views

Why is "Who's From Out Of Town?" the "classic" standup bit?

I've heard numerous references to this line in various places but have not been able to pin down the origin. Presumably, the joke is that a performer will ask this question to the audience, and when ...
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0answers
81 views

Has the word individual 'outcompeted' that of person historically?

Would it be correct to say that the word individual have 'outcompeted' that of person since 17th century in everyday English, as well as in social sciences? According to etymonline.com's entry on ...
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0answers
139 views

What is the origin of the British phrase "Rough as houses"?

I'm preempting the usual comments by saying: If you're not British, you probably won't have heard it before. But it is a fairly well known phrase in BrE. For instance, in this book: Unfortunately, it ...
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1answer
38 views

What is the origin of the meaning of 'counter' to express the surface on which goods or money is counted? [closed]

The OED does not appear to list the meaning of the noun 'counter' which conveys the concept of a flat surface over which goods or money is counted, except that it lists the verb 'to counter' as having ...
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2answers
78 views

Where does the phrase "That's a wrap" come from?

Where does the phrase "That's a wrap", meaning "we are finished" come from? I suspect it is from the movie making process, but I couldn't find much information on its origins.
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1answer
66 views

Usage of suffix in Arithmetic vs Arithmatic - arithmos (root)? [closed]

In creating a new English word, when does one use the suffix of -matic vs -metic? As an example: Why or how does one get arithmetic from a root word of arithmos? On the origins of the word "...
4
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1answer
86 views

What's the origin of "to string somebody along"?

"to string somebody along", i.e. to deceive. What's the origin of this phrase? I always picture a cow being lead by the speaker with a piece of string.
3
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1answer
74 views

Why 'd' in 'Aeneid'?

The Latin poem Aeneis is Aeneid in English. How did the last d come about? A few suspects by quick search: /ð/ → /d/ shift in English, but there must be a shift /s/ → /ð/. It seems romance languages ...
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1answer
61 views

Is "eipher" a proper English word or a typo of "Cipher"? [closed]

In many posts and online articles, I come across the usage of "eipher". But, I could not get the meaning or history of this word from any sources. The word "eipher" results many ...
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2answers
163 views

What makes the spelling of "psychedelic" a mongrel spelling?

According to this Wikipedia article, Richard Evans Schultes thought that psychedelic was a mongrel spelling of the word. The other option was phanerothyme. Apparently, they are both constructed from ...
1
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1answer
53 views

History of the expression "Moses basket"

The expression "Moses basket" is clearly an allusion to the biblical story. But what is the history of this expression? When was the expression first used to mean a portable cradle for a ...
5
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2answers
217 views

Why are 'at least' and 'a lot' not single words?

I constantly have trouble with spelling the word-phrases ‘at least’ and ‘a lot’ .. they both should be a single word in my mind, which isn’t correct. They both seem to just be a single unit of meaning....
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1answer
119 views

Does "pig" (fat animal) come from the Latin "pinguedo" (fat)?

Does "pig" (fat animal) come from the Latin pinguedo (fat)?
0
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1answer
50 views

First Use of the Word 'Skimmer' to Mean a Low-Flying Hovercraft in Science Fiction? [closed]

Does anyone know when the word 'skimmer' first got used to mean 'a low-flying, in-atmosphere hovercraft' in science fiction?
14
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5answers
2k views

“Green” has been associated with envy (green-eyed monster), as well as with a novice. How did these associations arise? [closed]

The color green is associated with lack of experience (i.e. novices are called “green”), as well as with envy (“green with envy”, “green-eyed monster”). Does anyone know how, when and why these ...

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