283

Short answer The PRICE vowel that we hear in the word wise, /waɪz/, has a systematic relationship with the KIT vowel which we hear in the word wizard, /'wɪzəd/. As we add syllables to the base of a word in English, we tend to reduce the length of the vowel in the base. This is so that we can accommodate the new syllables and still preserve the perceived ...


165

billion comes from bi- + million, as it originally meant the product of two millions - in other words, a million million. This usage persists in Europe (see long scale), but in America a billion means a thousand million. (In the long scale this would be called a milliard.) See https://www.etymonline.com/word/billion


128

One is biscuit / biscotti, which literally means "twice cooked". Although the prefix here is "bis", it does start with "bi", so... from Oxford Living Dictionary: Origin Middle English: from Old French bescuit, based on Latin bis ‘twice’ + coctus, past participle of coquere ‘to cook’ (so named because originally biscuits were cooked in a twofold ...


109

Man in Old English could be either gendered or non-gendered. We inherited that ambiguity. In Old English, man referred to both an adult male and a human being of either sex. Here is Stephen A. Barney in Word-Hoard: An Introduction to Old English Vocabulary, entry 8: Mann serves for both "adult male" and "human being (of either sex)," in English; the ...


81

The answer to this is.... complicated. The letter J is, as you mentioned, relatively recent, and originated as a variant of the letter I. Why that happens is a little complicated, and requires unpacking some assumptions in your question. In the original languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew) which provide us with the names Jesus, Joseph, Justinian, etc., the ...


80

The example given by the OP isn't too far off the mark. Rather than bicycle consider the shortened version "bike" where it may be used as part of another word e.g. quad-bike. In this case it is being used to describe a 4 wheeled cycle.


71

The answer to this question is very complex if all details have to be included; but here is a very simplified version:   1. Homorganic lengthening Some time in the later stages of Old English (so some time around 1000 AD or so), a sound change happened whereby vowels were lengthened if they were immediately followed by a voiced homorganic consonant ...


57

'Chuse' was actually a variant spelling which went out-of-style around 1840, after enjoying singnificant popularity in the 1700s. Since your novel was published in 1815, I'd say it's not an error. Link for some example usages from Google Books.


53

Might be a bit of a stretch, but... Bivouac a temporary encampment with few facilities, as used by soldiers, mountaineers, etc verb -acs, -acking or -acked (intr) to make such an encampment Word Origin and History for bivouac n. 1702, from French bivouac (17c.), ultimately from Swiss/Alsatian biwacht "night guard," from bei- "double, additional"...


51

I can't speak to the history of the usage, but basically, yes, "birthday" means the anniversary of your birth, not the original day of the event. People rarely refer to the day someone was born as his "birthday". Rather, we call that "the day he was born". If you want to know the date someone was born, including the year, you don't ask, "When was your ...


47

You may have noticed that "programmed" and "programming" stand as an exception to the usual tendency for final consonant doubling to occur in two-syllable words only when the second syllable is stressed (for example, we double the final r in occurring but not in harboring). I use "tendency" guardedly here: Various other exceptions to this tendency exist, and ...


45

While bigamy technically means the act of taking a second spouse while still legally married to a first (in cultures that enforce marital monogamy), in practice it also refers to people who have a whole series of such fraudulent marriages, a classic example being the sailor with a wife in every port. (The closely related word bigamist is the person who ...


42

The OED indicates first recorded use of the word "virgin" to refer to either sex was in 1300, about 100 years after the first recorded use to refer to females in 1200. The reference is to Cursor Mundi. In modern English, this would read: He that in maidenhead is faithful, He leads life like to angels, For virgins all are they;


41

There have always been “two birds in the bush” I did not find any references that showed there ever being more than two birds, possibly nestling, in a shrub. However, some claim that the version with which we are most familiar first appeared in the English translation of The Second Part of the History of the Valorous and Witty Knight – Errant, Don Quixote of ...


38

The relevant definition from OED is: Capital, first-rate, ‘crack’. This is most certainly the definition you are looking for as, all of the citations are 1844-1875 (although the earliest of said citations are for "bully-boat"). Also, it's listed as originally American, so that fits with the "young man in Aroostook County, Maine". A similar definition ...


36

Putting the ones place before the tens place was formerly the primary way to discuss two-digit numbers like twenty-two. The Oxford English Dictionary, under "twenty, adj. and n.," lists the Old English translation of his Histories: c893 tr. Orosius Hist. vi. ii. 256 Þara twa & twentigra monna þe he him to fultume hæfde acoren. In Early Modern ...


33

The printing press changed everything. Prior to Gutenberg, English was primarily a spoken language and stories were often passed on in the oral tradition. The introduction of printed works in the mid-15th century had two major effects: Standardization, as printed works were distributed beyond the reach of the local authors. This led to standardization ...


33

My pet peeve: bimonthly, which means every 2 months, but also every 1/2 a month. The latter meeting your criteria. Edit: I'm relieved that other people find this as odd as me. Yes bimonthly means twice a month and also every 2 months. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/explore/bimonthly/ I suspect this happened because there aren't many things that occur ...


31

Your son's first birthday will be 23 September 2015. 23 September 2014 was his zeroth birthday. Like C arrays, laws of thermodynamics, and the days of March, birthdays are zero-indexed.


30

Heighth is no error It is a misunderstanding that the spelling or pronunciation of heighth is an illiterate and uneducated error. Although many wrongly consider it such, history is not on their side, nor are the better dictionaries. Despite how in particular over the last century the heighth spelling has come to be stigmatized, heighth is a perfectly ...


30

If you can forgive the transformation of bi- to ba- over time, a barouche is a luxurious, four-wheeled carriage drawn by horses. The word ultimately comes from Latin birotus (bi- "two" + rotus "wheel"). See articles on the Online Etymology Dictionary and Wikipedia.


29

I'm old enough to remember when "man" or the combining for "-man" was just common usage. "All men are created equal" was just taken for granted as meaning "All persons were created equal." Words like spokesman, craftsman, chairman, etc. were easy to use and didn't raise any gender questions. Of course "man" could also be used in a strictly male sense. "Be ...


27

Because it was not a French word, but a Scottish one. And we did lose a u — just not the u you were expecting. Per the OED, it was a corruption of grammar, which during the 18th century was variously spelled glamer, glamor, glammar, and then in Scotland, as glaumour. That was one u too many, though, and it went then to glamour where it has remained ever ...


25

I wouldn't agree that either is necessarily "more genuine" as @JohnPeyton has suggested. Intonation and emphasis can affect the intended meaning as much as the actual words used. Additionally, I think usage will differ between different English-speaking regions and countries, with some nationalities being naturally more reserved, and others naturally more '...


24

Perhaps bifurcation is an example? At least the mathematical sense given in Wiktionary, The change in the qualitative or topological structure of a given family as decribed by bifurcation theory. seems to allow for more general cases than a splitting in two. I’m afraid I don’t know enough about dynamical systems to be sure whether this is a possibility, ...


23

Fuck, from the 16th century. Roger, from 1711. Screw, from 1725. Shag, from 1788. What a great question.


23

In Shakespeare's time, because of the Great Vowel Shift, symmetry was a much closer rhyme with eye than it is today (if it wasn't exact), and Shakespeare and his contemporaries used rhymes like this all the time. It wasn't the vowel of symmetry that changed, though; it was the vowel in eye. Shakespeare: Sonnet 1: From fairest creatures we desire increase, ...


23

Yes. From the Oxford English Dictionary (subscription required): Man was considered until the 20th cent. to include women by implication, though referring primarily to males. It is now frequently understood to exclude women, and is therefore avoided by many people. and then, before beginning its selection of quotations, remarks In some of the ...


22

It's Law French, the normal language of law in England until well after 1464. The words Rawe, Skawe, cokell [and] fagge are evidently English words, not French ones, presumably either because there weren't corresponding French terms (at least in Law French), or because it was important to cover every case in this statute. So, while the rest of the text is ...


21

It largely depends on your current dialect. Regions of the English-speaking world vary in pronunciation to the point where communication can be impossible. For example, my Canadian-influenced Upstate New York dialect often goes with a lot of blank expressions in West Virginia. Even in Boston, I'm sometimes caught in a loop of both speakers asking to repeat ...


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