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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
2
votes
1answer
225 views

Etymology of "informal British" word "bent" (meaning: dishonest, corrupt)

I have been seeing some of my British friends using the word "bent" to mean dishonest, cheater, immoral etc. "Bent" as adjective is defined in Lexico as British informal Dishonest; ...
0
votes
4answers
212 views

What could "mucka doozy" mean and where does it come from?

My first manager out of college used to throw around this phrase, "mucka doozy". I always understood it to be a 'big mess' or something to that effect. My spelling is only approximate, and ...
4
votes
2answers
522 views

Earliest usages of gymtimidation

Gymtimidation appears to be a recent coniage meaning “the fear of working out in front of others.” A 2017 entry in Urban Dictionary suggests that the term was coined by a famous operator of fitness ...
4
votes
1answer
87 views

Was "blue death" a popular term for Cholera in the US in the1800s?

I'm working on my dissertation on public health. I just came across Robert Morris' book on Cholera called, "The Blue Death". My university library doesn't have access to the book and both ...
0
votes
2answers
364 views

"Throw it on the pile" - where did this idiom come from?

("throw it in the pile" or "just throw it on the pile" are also acceptable variants) I have seen this expression being used a lot. Based on context and intuition, I figured it has ...
0
votes
1answer
52 views

What are the requirements for a word to have an etymology?

This question is prompted by a recent question on the etymology of dunsel. Both the Oxford English Dictionary and Etymonline profess ignorance of dunsel. It seems, from an answer, to have been made ...
10
votes
4answers
836 views

Origin of colloquializing suffix -o

The letter o is used in different combinations with words to make them more colloquial as suggested from the following extract. -o generally does not change the meaning of the word, only making it ...
1
vote
1answer
502 views

Why is the P silent in "coup" and "corps"?

Corps = /kɔː(r)/: the PS is silent Coup = /kuː/: the P is silent Corps Etymology Dictionary says "from French corps d'armée (16c.), which apparently was picked up in English during Marlborough's ...
0
votes
1answer
73 views

Doctrine as a verb or adjective [closed]

Doctrine should definitely be a verb in the English language, but apparently, it is not. What would then be the word that best suits such a purpose? Ex: He was doctrined to uphold such beliefs.
2
votes
1answer
96 views

Why "admit" with T but "admissible" with SS? [duplicate]

I have noticed that when the suffix -ible is added to "admit", it becomes "admissible" rather than "admittible". There are few other examples: "omit" = "...
2
votes
1answer
51 views

Why is the exercise price of an option called a "strike price"?

The exercise price of an option, the set price at which a derivative contract can be bought or sold when it is exercised, is sometimes called the "strike price." Historically, why is it ...
10
votes
1answer
478 views

Can anyone provide a more detailed and/or logical etymology of the word denigrate?

According to wiktionary the word is said to derive from Latin 'denigratus,' to blacken; or asperse, defame. There's also Latin 'denigratio,' said to mean blackening. Yet doesn't the prefix 'de' mean ...
4
votes
3answers
247 views

How and when did the ('chiefly British') sense of 'wheeze', meaning 'good plan, scheme' arise?

The American Heritage Dictionary entry for this sense of wheeze adds only a [chiefly British] caveat: wheeze ... [noun] ... [chiefly British] A clever scheme. Collins adds a [slang] caveat: ...
1
vote
3answers
172 views

What word was used with the meaning of "suicide" pre-1650s?

Online Etymology Dictionary puts the origin as such: "deliberate killing of oneself," 1650s, from Modern Latin suicidium Wiktiobary here puts: Suicide, 1651, New Latin coinage (probably ...
0
votes
0answers
37 views

Does the investment term "flip" have an etymological connection to the word invert?

The Spanish term for "an investment" is "una inversión"; "to invest" is "invertir". "Invertir" can also be used for the physical act of inverting ...
1
vote
1answer
58 views

Need help deciphering the meaning behind a phrase spoken in 1893

While trying to find a word that describes someone as having a fondness/interest in microbes, I stumbled across this Nature news article in 1893 that utilized the word, "bacillophil" seen ...
1
vote
0answers
76 views

Connection between "wiseguy" and the Cantonese slang 古惑仔

"Wiseguy" can mean a made man in the mafia or a smart ass who acts like they are smarter than others. What I find interesting is that the Cantonese/Chinese slang term 古惑仔(Gu Wac Zai) has ...
1
vote
1answer
91 views

Time to head for the high grounds

Our family has used the phrase, "Time to head for the high grounds" to mean it's time to go to bed. Is this an actual idiom? Did it get misquoted or garbled though the years?
0
votes
2answers
81 views

How did "-able" semantically shift to mean "requiring"?

Etymonline on "-able" doesn't expound the origin of "requiring". -able common termination and word-forming element of English adjectives (typically based on verbs) and generally ...
0
votes
1answer
363 views

What is the origin of the '7 8 9' joke?

Everybody knows the iconic joke, which goes like this: Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9. When I search 'why was 6 afraid of 7 etymology' my results are irrelevant, mostly explaining the humor ...
1
vote
0answers
181 views

Is the word Baba in Russian and Japanese related? [closed]

I recently found out baba in Japanese means something along the lines of "hag". I know in Russian it means grandmother and in old Russian sorceresses, witch etc. Are the two words related? ...
4
votes
1answer
387 views

Was there a D to TH sound change in English?

I looked up the etymology of "father" and see what Etymology Dictionary says: Old English fæder "he who begets a child, nearest male ancestor;" It clearly says "fæder" ...
0
votes
1answer
57 views

Origins of "going" in "going to verb"

I realized that many Indian languages also use the "going to verb" construct, like "going to sleep". However, this phrase is not used in Japanese. How far back in time, can we ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

Does prepare relate in any way to the prefix 'pre' (meaning 'before')? [closed]

Specifically, the phrase prepare in advance sounds redundant, as if to say pre-prepare. What is a better phrase to say "make ready beforehand" in the context of putting some ingredients ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

English plural of "conundrum"

A Physics.SE question had me reading up on D-branes on Wikipedia, where I found the following sentence in the section on black holes: The concept of black hole entropy poses some interesting conundra....
1
vote
1answer
73 views

Why do some verbs have "directions" as adverbs?

I recently noticed how many verbs have "directions" as adverbs: "look up", "find out", "talk down", "figure out", "walk up", "look down&...
1
vote
3answers
202 views

How did "the works" come to mean "everything"? [closed]

What is the etymology of "the works" meaning "everything", as in "a pizza with the works"?
0
votes
1answer
59 views

Why aren't there entries for paleolithic and mesolithic? [closed]

Why do dictionaries list neolithic and medieval, but not paleolithic or mesolithic, as synonyms of outmoded/outdated, when the latter two periods supposedly much preceded the former two?
6
votes
4answers
295 views

Why are "con artists" called artists?

It really confuses me, because in my native language, "artists" should be a decent occupation (on painting, singing, movie, etc.), but obviously, a man performing scam is far from being ...
10
votes
4answers
955 views

Why do we use the word “second” to mean the 60th part of a minute? [closed]

In English, we use the word “second” to refer to two things that don’t seem to be related. “Second” means both “the rank after first” and the 60th part of a minute. It’s the same in Spanish, but I’m ...
0
votes
2answers
177 views

What is the origin of the phrase "burden of shame"?

I had never heard this particular phrase ("burden of shame") before today. All I can find on Google are references to a UB40 (a mostly-white reggae-pop band from the 1980s) song. Are there ...
1
vote
2answers
152 views

How did a word that meant "food" come to mean "meat, flesh of animals"?

I sometimes work with texts which have an antiquated atmosphere about them, and I occasionally come across the expression to sit at meat in such as At that time it was degrading to sit at meat with ...
1
vote
0answers
46 views

"Brown" and other causative color verbs [duplicate]

There are several verbs in English meaning "to cause to become [a given color]". Most of these, it seems, end in the suffix "-en". There are other adjectives as well that use "...
0
votes
2answers
90 views

Why don’t dictionaries have all the different forms of a word

Here are some different forms of a word that come to mind: Noun (singular, plural, possessive) Verb (past, present, future, etc.) Adverb Adjective I know that these are called parts of speech and ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

What roots does the word 'paradice' have, and why has it been changed to 'paradise' and since when?

What roots does the word paradice have? Why has it been changed to paradise and since when? Are there any other English words that had such a transformation?
9
votes
3answers
344 views

"Katy bar the gate" origins -- Katherine Who?

For the first time in a long time, I recently heard the expression "Katy, bar the gate!" exclaimed as a warning. It was said so fast I had to ask the speaker to repeat himself. His ...
4
votes
3answers
766 views

How did the phrase "back at Square One" originate?

A line from the TV series Monk (2002–2009): Welcome to square one. Pop culture has many instances of "Square One". It means "right where we started", emphasising comedically that ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

How do you pronounce "archmage"?

From Wikipedia: The term archmage is used in fantasy works as a title for a powerful magician or a leader of magicians. Should it be pronounced arch, ark, or some other way?
0
votes
0answers
57 views

How did these two sentences "I am looking for a responsible man" and "I am looking for the man responsible" come to take on different meanings?

The first sentence "I am looking for a responsible man" means that I am looking for someone who can be trusted whereas the second sentence "I am looking for the man responsible" ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Where does the expression "dialled in" come from?

As an engineer, woodworker and model helicopter pilot I often hear the phrase "dialled in" to refer to a thing which has been perfectly set up. Examples include: a table saw is dialled in ...
5
votes
2answers
212 views

Why is electrocardiogram abbreviated EKG instead of ECG?

There is no K in electrocardiogram. So why is it often referred to as EKG instead of ECG? (ECG is an acronym for electrocardiogram, and it appears to be used twice as often in English literature as ...
5
votes
3answers
490 views

Origin of 'buck up', meaning "to become encouraged"... American or British?

The President-elect tried to buck up weary Americans with a hopeful Thanksgiving message this week, promising that this "grim season of division" would soon give way to a year of light and ...
13
votes
2answers
476 views

Origin of 'bog-standard'

Today, while reading an interview of Camilla Pang in The Guardian of 28 Nov 2020, I found this in the article: Deviations from that – whether through being a woman, or being neurodivergent or because ...
1
vote
1answer
141 views

Chanterelle and Chantrelle, which is the correct name of the mushroom?

I always spell it as chanterelle until I bought a box of CHANTRELLE in Whole Foods Market. I looked up my dictionary, and yes, the word should be chanterelle. However, I also noticed that, the word ...
2
votes
2answers
111 views

British Prime Ministers are either vicars or bookies: quote origin?

The old adage has it that British prime ministers are either vicars or bookmakers. In Phoney Tony the country has a bookie masquerading as a vicar, a posture that does little for the standing of ...
13
votes
1answer
351 views

Is the origin of "butch" really from Polari?

I've been researching the origin of the term "butch" and noticed that sources tend to be split on whether they mention it originating from Polari. OED, Green's Dictionary of Slang (adj., ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are the divisions of the Bible called "verses"?

In common parlance, a verse is a writing arranged with a metrical rhythm, typically having a rhyme. Most of the books of Bible contain prose which do not follow metrical rhythm or rhyme. But their ...
2
votes
2answers
382 views

Where did "nightingale" get its second N from?

I noticed while searching the etymology of the word nightingale that it did not have the second N. The sources I checked only say intrusive N but don't explain it. Wikitionary: From Middle English ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

CABBAGE: A humble vegetable; a colorful word

Why does the verb to cabbage mean to steal? cabbage STEAL, FILCH They also cabbaged our bats, balls, and gloves. — H. L. Mencken [Merriam-Webster Dictionary] Incidentally, M-W is perhaps the only ...
1
vote
1answer
85 views

Etymology of "had better"

Hadn't ought: "ought not —usually used with to ": you really hadn't ought to do that. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hadn%27t%20ought Is this ''had'' the same as the one in had ...

1
3 4
5
6 7
113