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Questions tagged [etymology]

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

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1
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4answers
9k views

“Everything is everything”

I tried to google the phrase "everything is everything" but can't find its origin. Where does this phrase originally come from? What does it mean?
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1answer
171 views

White Noises, Woman or Women

What is the earliest printed use in English, including relevant context, of 'white woman' or 'white women'? As nearly as I have been able to discover, the term is first found in print in these ...
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1answer
217 views

Etymology of the expression “to entertain an idea”

The expression to entertain an idea/thought/etc. has perplexed me for a while now. Given the meaning of the verb entertain, I find it quite weird for it to be used in such a way. So, how did this come ...
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1answer
1k views

On being golden

Saying that [someone] is golden means that person is in a desirable situation that will likely lead to some sort of success. I am trying to find out the origin of this phrase. So far, I have found ...
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2answers
588 views

“Impregnable” and “impregnate” seemingly opposites? [duplicate]

Perhaps this is a weird question, but I couldn't find an answer via etymologies. When something is "impregnable" it means "cannot be broken into." But, when something is "impregnated", other than ...
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1answer
470 views

Why is the “o’ in “clover”, “cove” and “over’ pronounced differently in “cover”?

Etymonline tells me that cover is derived from Old French and Late Latin. mid-12c., from Old French covrir (12c., Modern French couvrir) "to cover, protect, conceal, dissemble," from Late Latin ...
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2answers
201 views

History of ‘smile one's thanks’

I'm interested to know when the actual phrase smile one's thanks was first registered in the English language, as well as smile agreement and nod agreement.
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1answer
230 views

apodictic vs. apodeictic

Looking through the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors (part of the Oxford Style Manual, I was suprised to read in its dictionary part the following entry on page 619a: apodictic clearly ...
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2answers
1k views

Etymology for “cacamayme”

I love using "cacamayme" in conversations when I really want to emphasize the "crazy" I am talking about. I also love the Urban Dictionary's slang definition: 100% grade A Bologna. Does anyone ...
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1answer
566 views

What is the origin and meaning of “Save some for Jehoshaphat”?

Back in the late 1950's, during Sunday dinner (here in Tennessee), my mom would often exclaim "save some for Jehoshaphat". What is the origin and meaning of that phrase?
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1answer
952 views

Was “rooster” originally an AmE or a BrE term?

Rooster is a much more common term in AmE than in BrE, the reason, apparently is that: 1772, agent noun from roost (v.); earlier roost cock, c. 1600, in sense of "the roosting bird." Favored ...
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1answer
1k views

Was “precious snowflake” originally used in a derogatory manner?

Nowadays, most uses of the term "precious snowflake" are derogatory, such as the following tweet from a pro-Trump Twitter user: Here's a clue. Get some backbone and stand up for America, by ...
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1answer
52k views

What was the first use of the metaphor “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take” [closed]

This is often credited to Wayne Gretzky, but I have some serious doubts that this is the original. So, 2 questions here: 1.) Was Wayne Gretzky really the first to say this? 2.) What is an older, ...
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1answer
962 views

Origin of term “Microbe” [closed]

What's the origin of the term microbe? According to related definitions and topics, I think it may be micro + be. If it is, what does "be" stand for?
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0answers
32 views

Either Pronuciation is OK? or not OK? [duplicate]

Either Pronunciation is OK? or not OK? My wife is learning English and she came up with the “either problem”. What to reply? I had always used both pronunciations but in a specific way and seem to ...
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0answers
172 views

Why is a zero score in tennis or squash called love? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why do they say “love fifteen,” in tennis? What is the origin of 'love' score in tennis/squash? To be honest, I didn't not quite understand why commentators kept ...
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0answers
315 views

What does the term “Urban Legend” mean? [closed]

I heard a great story the other day about a guy with a bloody hook for a hand - but then, when I retold it to my kids at bedtime my Au Pair informed me that it was just a silly Urban Legend. What ...
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1answer
7k views

Takeout vs Pickup, is there a difference?

A restaurant offers "Takeout or Pickup" and it appears the difference is that takeout are orders placed onsite to be consumed offsite, and pickup are orders placed offsite that are retrieved from ...
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2answers
431 views

Environmental Health and Safety vs Environmental, Health, and Safety guidelines

Can you tell me when to know which EHS (which can be either of the above two definitions) definition is correct? I read the first definition as the guidelines for the health and safety of the ...
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3answers
6k views

How, when and where did the phrase 'state of the art' originate? [duplicate]

Volume 4 of Charles Burney, A General History of Music, From the Earliest Ages to the Present Period (1776) contains this sentence: And while it [Rousseau's Lettre sur la Musique Françoise] was ...
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1answer
37k views

Why eleven is not called onety one [duplicate]

I want to know why eleven is not called "onety one"? Since eleven comes after ten, why is not "onety one"? and why ten is not called onety ?
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6answers
8k views

Etymology of “Given up the ghost”

What is the origin of the phrase "Given up the ghost"? e.g. "After 10 years, my DVD player has finally given up the ghost." Does it have a religious connotation?
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2answers
8k views

Origin of terms Passed Away and Deceased

I really dislike the expression “Passed away” and would like to know where it came from. I am not keen on “deceased” either. Died seems gentle enough. This from a Low Episcopalian.....
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4answers
3k views

How does “not least” mean “in particular; notably”?

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition that helps to internalise its meaning? not least = In particular; notably I couldn't find the etymology for this ??adverbial phrase?? I also ...
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2answers
396 views

Why is the word 'hash' associated with the '#' character? [duplicate]

The '#' symbol has many names, but hash is the one that confuses me. I know the etymology of the word 'hash', but how did it become associated with that character?
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0answers
191 views

How did 'so' mean 'so that'?

so, adv. and conj. = 24. so .. that [=] in such a way, to such an extent, that 25. a. With omission of that, = sense 24. 26. a. so (that) , in limiting sense: On condition that, provided that, so ...
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3answers
927 views

Why are “some” letters silent in English? [closed]

There are many such words that we all know about, but please explain why the makers of the English language made up words with silent letters?
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1answer
192 views

How did 'but' evolve to mean 'without its being the case that'?

but = 5. {with negative} {archaic} Without its being the case that OED's longness overwhelmed me. Etymonline neglects this definition. What bridges the original meaning (of but), with the semantic ...
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1answer
704 views

Phraseme “THROW THE BOOK AT”. [duplicate]

I'm looking for info on how this idioms origin was documented to the USA? Can I grammatically eliminate any tie to the german book listed below. Could a latin spanish or Russian form translate well ...
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2answers
746 views

aberrant vs errant

Aberrant seems a subset of the word errant. Thus, what's the effect of the Latin prefix 'ab-'? What are the similarities and differences? What's this phenomenon called, in which a prefix or suffix ...
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0answers
79 views

What is the origin of “Get a hold of the short/wrong end of the stick”? [duplicate]

I know this is a duplicate, of this question: Origin of "the wrong end of the stick" but none of the answers are can be considered fact. I propose this answer: The split tally was a ...
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1answer
365 views

Why does the word “nugatory” become nugatory?

This is the follow up question of When to use “nugatory”? So if we look at the Ngram of the word nugatory, it is noticeable that the word has been nugatory throughout the time. The trend starts from ...
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3answers
2k views

The origin of Shelock Holmes' “deerstalker”

A deerstalker is a soft cap, most commonly associated with Sherlock Holmes. Neither Oxford nor Etymonline lists the word's origin. Does anyone know when and how this word originated?
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1answer
845 views

Does “Should I wash my hands of this?” suggest a bribe?

Should I wash my hands of this? Has this expression ever been used as a way of suggesting a bribe?
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4answers
887 views

Where does the suffix “-ker” come from?

A small number of words used in English have the derivational suffix "-ker" (maybe actually "-tiker"?), which appears to attach to words ending in "-sis". The only one I can remember off the ...
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4answers
3k views

What's the origin of “strike a chord with…”

People use the phrase "x strikes a chord with me" to address enthusiasm or personal movement. I know there is another question that addresses what this idiomatic phrase means, but I'm very curious as ...
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2answers
5k views

The origin of Yours Sincerely and Yours Faithfully

It is common knowledge that Yours sincerely is the phrase used to end a formal letter that is sent to a particular person. And Yours faithfully is used at the end of a formal letter beginning with "...
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2answers
4k views

Etymology of the phrase “Go to hell” [closed]

I've learned the meaning of "Go to hell" from the dictionary as used to express angry rejection of someone or something I have done my part of research by Googling "etymology for go to hell ...
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2answers
872 views

Why is “country” not pronounced like “count-tree”?

Why is country pronounced /ˈkʌntɹi/ and not /ˈkaʊntɹi/ ?
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1answer
1k views

where does the phrase “sitting duck” orgin? [closed]

Where does the phrase "sitting duck" come from? It is a a person or thing with no protection against an attack or other source of danger.
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1answer
771 views

Why don’t “snow” and “plow” — well, or “plough” — rhyme? [duplicate]

They (sometimes?) have the same ending when spelt but don’t rhyme when said. Why is that?
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1answer
436 views

How does 'such as' mean 'of a kind that; like'?

Since elementary school, I've known definition 1 (the most common) of such as = for example. Yet 2 confuses me, so what's an intuitive derivation or etymology behind it? 2. such as = Of a kind ...
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5answers
7k views

Pairs in common idioms/phrases

There are phrases which pair things up. For example, "checks and balances", "bells and whistles", What is the rational behind this construct? Any more examples?
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1answer
82 views

Where does the term “physical” come from?

Physical in the bodily sense appears to have developed independently from its root original term physic. So, for instance, you can say you do physical exercise to keep your body, not your physic, in ...
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1answer
2k views

“Oriented” vs. “orientated” [duplicate]

I couldn't help but add an additional frame of reference. Though I personally find the utterance of "orientated" to be a failed attempt at the proper word "oriented", the collective commentary is ...
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1answer
433 views

Trix from Latin

Is the Latin term Trix for a female person related to the term turning tricks as related to prostitution? I have reviewed the origination of turning tricks as noted on this site. However, it did not ...