Questions tagged [twentieth-century-language]

For questions relating to 20th century English, i.e. 1901-2000.

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Why is weekend so called in the U.S., when it is not the end of the week by the reckoning that is standard there?

It is well known that in some parts of the world Monday is generally regarded as the first day of the week, while in others that status is bestowed on Sunday. Given that, in a continuously repeating ...
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define "the dangerous age"

How many years-old is "the dangerous age"? Where does the term come from? (Google doesn't seem to know.) "I've reached the dangerous age, and lady, I'm going to have fun." X ...
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Attributive modification of subjective pronoun - was possible in 20th century?

I noticed an article in Los Angeles Herald, Volume XLIII, Number 304, 22 October 1918: Link. The title says: Influenza-Crazed He Slays His Family Here 'Influenza-Crazed' seems to modify 'He'. Were ...
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What did the word "Ade" mean in the English of a hundred years ago?

Saw this in the news today and think I see the word Ade, but have never seen it before. Is it Ade? Or Ode? Wde? What does it mean? Is it an abbreviation?
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1 answer
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What does Scandinavian Home mean? Late XIX, early XX century. Great Britain

Joseph Conrad, "The Nigger Of The "Narcissus": A Tale Of The Forecastle": the two young Norwegians looked tidy, meek, and altogether of a promising material for the kind ladies who patronise the ...
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Meaning of "fresh drummer" 1890-1944

I've begun reading the introduction to Best of H.T. Webster on Archive.org and came across this paragraph on page 9: Webby had not yet reached his teens when the family moved to a small Wisconsin ...
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Origin of the phrase "dollars to doughnuts"

What is the origin of the phrase "dollars to doughnuts", and what is the phrase trying to convey when most commonly used? Grammarist says: Dollars to doughnuts means something that is ...
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3 answers
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Was Nabi Tajima (died this week at 117) born in the 19th or 20th Century? [closed]

A great-great-great grandmother thought to be the oldest person in the world has died in Japan aged 117. Nabi Tajima, who was born August 4, 1900, became the world's oldest seven months ago after the ...
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4 votes
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Where does the expression “spill the tea” come from? [closed]

According to Wiktionary, spill the tea (idiomatic, informal) means: To disclose information, especially of a sensitive nature. Apparently, the expression appears to be a recent one. 2012, Demetria ...
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Did everyday Americans really speak like they did on the radio? [duplicate]

When you listen to old radio broadcasts such as the War of the World or this Dick Tracy radio feature, you can hear Americans having the kind of fast talking and inflections you associate with old-...
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What does "sidehill garger" mean? (early 20th-century American literature)

I am reading "Wood-Folk Comedies: The Play of Wild-Animal Life on a Natural Stage" written by William J. Long, a naturalist and author, published in 1920. When I was reading it I had a word that I ...
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Abbreviation 'p.e.p' on postcard from 1928

I am a first year History and English BA student in Devon, England. I am currently writing an essay examining primary sources, one of which is a postcard. I was wondering if you were able to offer any ...
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Orwell: "A glimmer [is] one who watches vacant motor-cars." What does this mean?

Title is a quote from Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. In this section he goes through a bunch of London slang terms and what they mean, but I don't understand his definition. What does it ...
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2 votes
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Was "St. Bartholomew's Day massacre" what people used before Kristallnacht happened?

The New York Times' first article on Adolf Hitler, "Hitler New Power in Germany", written in 1922 (but still paywalled), referred to fears of a St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. Was that the standard ...
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1 answer
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Recent shifts in semantics which lead to misunderstandings [closed]

I was just answering this question. It is about a use of "should". The word seems to have undergone a semantic shift away from a simple first-person form of "would". Instead it is today most often ...
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1 answer
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Definition of Female Empowerment [closed]

Does anyone have a good definition of female empowerment? It'd be extremely helpful if this came as a quote. Please link if possible!
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3 votes
2 answers
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Capitalization in mid-20th century British English

While reading the early "Thomas the Tank Engine" books (published in the 1940s and 50s in Britain) I was struck by the somewhat odd capitalisation used. Most of the text is capitalised as in modern ...
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2 answers
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"Down in my boots"

May Sarton, an early 20th century poet, wrote in a letter: "Politically I am down in my boots." What could she mean? Angry? Frustrated? Disheartened?
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2 votes
4 answers
281 views

Was West Germany commonly referred to as "Germany"?

During the Cold War, in everyday conversation, was West Germany referred to as "Germany" like South Korea is currently often referred to as "Korea" and the People's Republic of China is currently ...
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3 votes
3 answers
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Origin of “name happened” form: from “s*** happens” via “magic happens”?

There’s a form in current English Then <X> happened or <X> happened, where you transition the name of a thing (a person, a fictitious character, or object), to mean the dramatic ...
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