Questions tagged [etymology]

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

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2
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2answers
187 views

What is the use of the double L in Llama and double A in Aardvark? [duplicate]

Always wanted a clear explanation as to why these animals had double letters at the beginning of the spelling. What’s up with that?
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Are the adjective “wise” and the suffix “-wise” etymologically related?

Are they linked, or have they arisen seperatedly and/or without connection?
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2answers
151 views

Where does the term “old salt” originate

I know an old salt is an old sailor in maritime jargon, but where does the term originate. Does it have to do with the fact that sea water is salty? Why does the old salt have to be old, can’t s/he be ...
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Why is “Colonel” spelled the way it is but pronounced similar to it’s homonym “Kernal” [duplicate]

Not sure what else I can say here. I never understood the logic behind this pronunciation and wonder what the origin May be and if that has something to do with how it’s pronounced.
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How did 'damages' semantically shift to mean 'money awards which respond to wrongs'?

Etymonline and OED don't expatiate what semantic notions underlie the ordinary meaning of 'damage' to this legal one. I quoted p. 800 Contract Law: Text, Cases, and Materials (2018 8 ed) in this ...
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1answer
42 views

How did 'receiver' semantically shift to mean an appointee to manage a company's assets?

What semantic notions underlie 1. with c in the OED? According to c, receivers manages or administers assets. So what exactly do they "receive"? Paul Davies. JC Smith's The Law of Contract (2018 2 ...
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166 views

Connection between the words Apollo, Apollyon, and Apologise

I've tried researching this topic before, in re Apollo, the Greek god son of Leto and Zeus and twin brother of Artemis, and its possible connection with the "angel of the bottomless pit" as referenced ...
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2answers
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When was the term “reality” first used referring to a TV show?

According to Etymonline the expression is from the early ‘90, but they add no details: Reality television from 1991. Reality television as a genre appears to date back at least to the ‘40s as ...
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1answer
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Are the English surname “Douglas” and the Old Slavonic word глас (glas) “voice” cognates?

Are the English surname "Douglas" and the Old Slavonic word глас (glas) "voice" cognates? , taking into consideration, that glais means “stream” and that "voice" is also a speech stream.
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1answer
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“Last days of Rome” phrase, meaning with examples

I would be interested to know the origin and evolution of meaning, along with example usage, for the phrase "last days of Rome".
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Why is the origin of “threshold” uncertain?

The Barn, Church Hall Farm, Broxted, Essex (England) See the YouTube video (13.40) George Clarke: The architecture of threshing barns is absolutely driven by their function. With two opposing ...
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1answer
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Origin of 'tump' (verb) and 'tumpline' (noun)

OED says the origin of both 'tump' (transitive verb, US, to "drag or carry by means of a tump-line", OED) and 'tump-line' (noun, "local U.S.", op. cit.) is "obscure". 'Tump-line' means a line or ...
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Does “ook” as onomatopoeia for the sound a monkey makes originate with Terry Pratchett?

I just recently ran into someone making the claim that the use of "ook" to represent the sound a monkey makes is a reference to the librarian from the Unseen University of Terry Pratchett's Discworld ...
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1answer
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'It addicted me, with one taste.' Can 'addict' be used transitively?

I am not clear regarding the entry in the Oxford English Dictionary for the verb 'addict'. Various transitive, but reflexive, meanings are stated and some of these appear to be obsolete. The King ...
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In search of the origins of term censor, I hit a dead end stuck with the greek term, to censor, λογοκρίνω

I have been looking in OED for a history that makes sense, yet, I just find crumbs, and I can not piece the history of this term. I am hitting a dead end researching the greek term to censor, named ...
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2answers
71 views

Is there a reason for the dual-meaning of the word “stature”? [closed]

The word "stature" is doubly defined by Merriam-Webster like so: 1 : natural height (as of a person) in an upright position 2 : quality or status gained by growth, development, or achievement ...
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1answer
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Is Motel really a “blend of motor and hotel” developed in the 1920s? [closed]

From Merriam Webster History and Etymology for motel blend of motor and hotel Is this supported by its earliest known uses?
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What is the origin of the phrase “(play) out of [their] skin”?

The phrase "play out of their skin" is frequently used in sports commentary, and to a lesser extent in describing exceptional performance in other areas, especially where physical exertion and/or some ...
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2answers
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What's the etymology of sound' in 'sound in damages, tort, contract'?

OED: 6. to sound in damages: in legal use, to be concerned only with damages. Also to sound in tort, to sound in contract, etc. 1780 M. Madan Thelyphthora II. 153 There is not one [...
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1answer
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Etymology of “take to the cleaners.”

I heard the following statement in the success story of Philip Armour, the captain of American meatpacking industry, which was broadcasted on radio by Success Journal on April 15th, and was ...
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1answer
71 views

eggs fried easy, while boiled soft

Why are eggs fried (over-)easy while boiled soft? I looked for etymological clues on the phrase "over-easy", but could find one. In both frying and boiling, fully cooked eggs are hard in the sense ...
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1answer
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Who said it first?

"If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven't spent the night with a mosquito" Is this an African proverb or is it originally from the Dalai Lama?
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' he got the drop on us '

In some western movies one cowboy says to another 'looks like he got the drop on us Tex'.Just wondering what there that phrase originated?
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1answer
248 views

When and where did “clam” come to mean a missed note in a musical performance?

Someone just asked me in chat what a missed note in music is called. Without hesitation, I replied, "A clam." It's what I've always heard in academic and professional settings since forever. Only now,...
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3answers
380 views

The etymology of “snooze”

I was looking up the etymology of the word snooze, and the Etymology Online suggested it was unknown. 1789, cant word, of unknown origin, perhaps echoic of a snore. Related: Snoozed; snoozing. ...
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644 views

First use of “packing” as in carrying a gun [closed]

A friend is using the sentence, “Nobody was packing there,” in an historical novel set in the 1885-90 timeframe. I suspect “packing” was not used in this slang format until 30-40 years later? Does ...
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2answers
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Why do we use “in” in the phrase “in front of”?

I just realized I can't quite make out why we use the word "in." The meaning of front is generally a surface, a side - not a space you can be "in," so how did that happen? Is it an artifact of an ...
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1answer
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Knees up, Mother Brown

Going back to 1918, a popular bar song in London was “Knees up, Mother Brown”. Finally recorded in 1938, it was quite popular for a number of years. In this clip from Hullabaloo, we can hear Petula ...
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Origin of “cooter” meaning “vagina”

My girlfriend and I were having a conversation the other day about sexual euphemisms and I told her about the following I'd seen on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update by Tina Fey According to a ...
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2answers
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Walkie-talkie and its origin [closed]

What is the origin of the word 'Walkie-talkie?' And why that word sounds so childish. For me it is associated with a toy phone for kids or something like that. Walkie-talkie seems to be a serious ...
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7answers
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How come people say “Would of”? [duplicate]

I often read the expression “would of” used instead of “would have”. Each time I read it I get annoyed so I googled it and found out -as I expected- that it is an incorrect way to say “would have”. ...
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1answer
188 views

Burning the candle at the other end

I came across this while reading "Along came a spider" by James Patterson. Chapter 48 begins with the sentence: The rest of that day, I burned the candle at the other end. Followed by: It ...
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5answers
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What is the word for reserving something for yourself before others do? [duplicate]

In English-speaking TV shows, characters sometimes say something similar to dips to say to other people they are taking something for themselves before others do. Neither Google, Wiktionary or Urban ...
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3answers
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What is the origin of “Panama schedule”?

"Panama schedule" describes an alternating 2-2-3 shift plan with 12-hour shifts over a period of 14 days, common in the military and some industries. What is the origin of this phrase?
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Different etymologies for spoken and written forms

I know a word in another language which appears at first to have a highly irregular spelling that does not match the pronunciation. However, further examination suggests that the spoken and written ...
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1answer
124 views

Shouldn't we spell “extrovert” as “extravert”? [closed]

I saw the spelling extrovert in a text, but I intuitively felt that the correct spelling is extravert. I did a little research and read that extravert is commonly used in scientific/technical ...
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2answers
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How do you parse “hair do”

Is "do" understood as a noun or verb in "hair do"? Asking this in search of "to make do". Bonus points if it can be related to German Tolle "tuft [of hair], that thing that Elvis had on his head", ...
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Mouse Spin alternative

I have researched this for some time and the only answers I can find are with reference to : "Why is a mouse when it spins" and refers to a steam engine. Here's my take: Since I can remember, and I ...
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1answer
111 views

Earliest usages of the literal and figurative sense of “window dressing”

The expression window-dressing, the skill of arranging objects attractively in a shop window is often used figuratively to refer to an act or an instance of making something appear deceptively ...
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3answers
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The pronunciation of the word 'junta'

I am just wondering if there is a historical explanation for the two different ways of pronouncing junta, a word of Spanish origin, with /h/ as in American English and with /dƷ/ in British English.
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1answer
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What is the etymology behind the euphemism “The Troubles”? [closed]

What is the etymology or history behind the euphemism "The Troubles" for the unrest/civil war in Northern Ireland?
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1answer
116 views

When was “Chronic” first used as its own antonym?

The word "Chronic" means "long lasting", or "occurring over an extended period of time". A chronic illness one that you will have for a long time (if not for your entire life), or take a long time to ...
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“Indian” comes from Italian/Spanish “gente in dios” (God-like people)? False etymology?

A while ago in January The Black Hebrew Israelites were speaking/shouting/proselytizing to surrounding people at Lincoln Memorial. The speaker claimed that the word "Indian" means "savage". A member ...
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2answers
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Origin of the word “spudger”

It appears to derive from the word "spuddle" which goes back to the Middle Ages, but the earliest I could find for "spudger" was 1877. Any additional information would be appreciated!
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Origin of the word “yeet”

Dear fellow linguists, I have been researching the origins of the spurious word "yeet" Various studies have returned the root word "yeetus," however this does not provide any further clarification ...
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How can “telecommuting” mean “to not commute or travel”?

Wikipedia describes that telecommuting … is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel (e.g. by bus or car) … If you do not commute, how can you call it "...
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Etymology of words “throw” and “catch” when talking about “programming exceptions” [duplicate]

I must first apologize if this is the wrong place to ask this. According to the guidelines on cs.stackexchange and stackoverflow, this question was clearly considered "off topic" for both of those ...
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4answers
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Origin of “beat” as a census division?

In one sense, the word beat means an area regularly traversed by someone, such as a police officer. I'm wondering about the origin of this term as applied to an obsolete type of census division in ...
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2answers
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Why is the English word of Chinese origin “Shih Tzu” used to refer to a dog breed not known in Chinese as “Shih Tzu”?

It is well known that it comes from a Wade-Giles transcription of the Mandarin Chinese word for "lion dog" (獅子狗 shih1-tzu0-kou3, from 獅子 "lion" + 狗 "dog"). This is part is indubitable. There's no ...
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European country names as US last names

An etymology / genealogy question: Americans sometimes have European country names as last names, presumably due to origin. But I only see SOME European countries as surnames, not others. I hear ...