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

6
votes
I suspect this may be general reference, but from the OED: Etymology of idiot: ancient Greek ἰδιώτης private person, person without professional knowledge, layman, ignorant, ill-informed person … , in Hellenistic Greek also common man, plebeian < ἴδιος private, own, peculiar (see idio- comb. form) + -ώτης -ote suffix Etymology of idiom: Hellenistic Greek ἰδίωμα peculiarity, property …
answered Apr 17 '12 by Cameron
12
votes
The slang word freebie is an example of a rhyming reduplication, which is the term for a word that repeats (possibly with modification) a part of the word stem at another place in the word. English rh …
answered Aug 27 '12 by Cameron
9
votes
As jwpat7 explained quite well, it refers to a drink of alcohol. The OED's earliest reference for wet as a noun with the meaning A drink or draught of some alcoholic beverage; a glass of liquor. …
answered Apr 16 '12 by Cameron
8
votes
By request from the comments: here is a link to a Language Log post that, among other things, explains the origin of the phrase. from your mouth to God's ear (or ... to the Gates of Heaven). May …
answered Apr 19 '12 by Cameron
7
votes
Your suspicion appears to be correct. From this page: The use of pad comes from the early days of 600 Ohm transformer coupled devices, where direct connection of the output of one to the input of …
answered Sep 5 '12 by Cameron
7
votes
It probably refers to the collapse of the Quebec Bridge: In 1922, Canadian Herbert Haultain created a ceremony for new engineers. New engineers are asked to recite an Obligation to their profess …
answered Jul 27 '12 by Cameron