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49 votes
Accepted

What is the origin of the word "doh" (as seen in the world's first crossword puzzle)?

I can only find a few citations for this...and most of them are in books about your crossword. One of them says that the clue "would likely be impossible for most non-botanists," and this ...
Heartspring's user avatar
  • 8,610
46 votes
Accepted

Why is stigmata a plural of stigma?

Words in the English language usually follow the -(e)s pluralization pattern, but why not stigmata? Why can't this word be its own or an alternative singular? To be sure, the regular plural stigmas ...
ruakh's user avatar
  • 15.5k
36 votes
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Usage of diacritics in loanwords

The consensus is... there is no consensus. In fact, some of the style guides I checked didn't even mention it. In that case you can just use the spelling recommended by a dictionary. That's what The ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 66.6k
35 votes

What is the origin of the word "doh" (as seen in the world's first crossword puzzle)?

Adding to Heartspring’s answer: Doh appears to be an anglicized rendering of the Javanese Duk or Dok (Malay: ígok)* — both of which are pronounced sort of like doh — without a k sound. The earliest ...
Tinfoil Hat's user avatar
  • 17.7k
31 votes

For native speakers, what are dumplings?

In the UK, whilst most people will understand that 'Asian / Chinese' dumplings are some kind of food, wrapped in dough, plain-old dumplings are something else far more ordinary. A dumpling, in the UK,...
SiHa's user avatar
  • 299
30 votes

Should foreign words used in English be inflected for gender, number, and case according to the conventions of their source language?

The answer is, unsatisfyingly, that it depends. Most native speakers aren't fluent in the borrowed language and so won't know the grammar principles there. Sometimes things are borrowed exactly, like ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 71.7k
27 votes

Why is Siobhan pronounced with a /v/ sound in English?

I don’t know the specific history of this particular name, but all the points you raise have influenced pronunciation of Irish loanwords to some extent. If we start diachronically, lenition in Old ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
26 votes
Accepted

Word for a cushy position awarded to a crony?

sinecure: sinecure (sīˈnĭ-kyo͝orˌ, sĭnˈĭ-) n. A position or office that requires little or no work but provides a salary. n. Archaic An ecclesiastical benefice not attached to the spiritual duties of ...
Kay V's user avatar
  • 380
26 votes
Accepted

Term for anticipating counterarguments and rebutting them

It sounds like Procatalepsis (Wikipedia): Procatalepsis, also called prolepsis or prebuttal, is a figure of speech in which the speaker raises an objection to their own argument and then ...
KillingTime's user avatar
  • 6,281
24 votes

Does the word “uzi” need to be capitalized?

Why is Uzi capitalized? It comes from a name, and people haven't frequently used it in lowercase in publication. First, the name is derived from a person's name. These usually retain their ...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
22 votes

Why did English borrow verbs ending in -ish?

There are a number of verbs ending -ir in modern French, where the corresponding English forms end with -ish. Some of them are établir, finir, nourrir, polir, punir. These are all conjugated the same ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
22 votes
Accepted

Is the etymology of "salary" a myth?

There may well be more to this, but to start , John Arbuthnot wrote: ... Tributum, properly speaking, was a Tax upon Individuals; one sort of it was called Capitatio, a Pole-tax (sic). ...
J. Taylor's user avatar
  • 5,115
20 votes
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Are there examples of mutual loanwords in French and in English?

From comment: As I once commented on an earlier question, quoting from a cross-Channel ferry announcement, "Ladies and gentleman, the buffet is now open. Mesdames et messieurs, le snack-bar est ...
Henry's user avatar
  • 20.3k
20 votes

Why is Siobhan pronounced with a /v/ sound in English?

Irish has regional accents. You’ve been misled by one of them. The pronunciation you cite, /ʃəwaːn̪ˠ/ is not definitive. Rendering á as /aː/ or even /a/ is one of the tell-tale characteristics of ...
KrisW's user avatar
  • 2,199
19 votes

Can you use 'amok' without 'run'? How?

Robert Allen, Pocket Fowler's Modern English Usage, second edition (2008) has this entry for "amok, amuck": amok, amuck. The word is normally used in the phrase to run amok/amuck, meaning '...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 165k
18 votes

Can you use 'amok' without 'run'? How?

Sure, run amok is the cliché but go amok is also found: The Guardian "This political correctness has gone amok," he said. The New York Times _ Books This is revisionism gone amok. The New ...
Lambie's user avatar
  • 15.1k
17 votes

Term for anticipating counterarguments and rebutting them

It sounds like preemptive arguments. From Merriam-Webster's definition of preemptive: 4 : marked by the seizing of the initiative : initiated by oneself // a preemptive attack From "Framing an ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

Can you use 'amok' without 'run'? How?

From OED: Amok can be used as a noun: 1947 Straits Times (Malaysia) 11 Oct. 1/2 It was feared that the man..would..begin a second amok. 1985 J. E. Carr & P. P. Vitaliano in A. Kleinman &...
Greybeard's user avatar
  • 42.6k
16 votes

Why “nouveau riche” but “art nouveau?”

The word order is unrelated to English, both art nouveau and nouveau riche are set expressions in French. Art nouveau could have been equally called nouvel art but the first form was picked for some ...
jlliagre's user avatar
  • 736
15 votes

Usage of diacritics in loanwords

I do not think that garçon/garcon is an ideal example, as it is seldom used as an English word (i.e. it is generally only used only to refer to a French individual). A better loan-word with a cedilla ...
David's user avatar
  • 12.9k
15 votes

How did barista enter the English language?

From the Barista Training Academy: The word barista was popularised by Starbucks in the late 1980s as person who is an employee working behind the coffee bar.... Before that, coffee shop employees ...
Edwin Ashworth's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

How to use words of foreign origin with dubious meaning?

Once a word has come to be used in English, its meaning in Latin or any other language is a complete irrelevance. It may have an English meaning which is very close to its original meaning, or one ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
  • 77.3k
14 votes

Is the etymology of "salary" a myth?

In classical Latin, the word salarium already meant "salary": salarium proconsulari solitum offerri ... Agricolae non dedit: "the salary commonly offered a proconsul [the governor of a province or, ...
Cerberus - Reinstate Monica's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

Is the word "psithurism" really used in English?

It appears to be an obsolete rare term. Fom the OED Online: Psithurism (rare) Whispering; a whispering noise, as of leaves moved by the wind. 1872 M. COLLINS Pr. Clarice II. xix. 218 Psithurism of ...
user 66974's user avatar
  • 67.5k
13 votes
Accepted

Will the word 'schadenfreude' be understood in an English text?

No. The question specifically asks whether the general readership will understand it. "the majority of adults" The answers claiming "yes" have given no evidence of general adoption. They have ...
GreenAsJade's user avatar
  • 1,742
12 votes

Are there examples of mutual loanwords in French and in English?

Garage (borrowed in English) and Parking (borrowed in French) can both refer to a building used for storing cars. Garage : Etymology : Borrowed from French garage (“keeping under cover, protection, ...
grahamj42's user avatar
  • 221
12 votes

Is there a word for fans making excuses for their favorite artist?

I offer the word apologist someone who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something that is typically controversial, unpopular, or subject to criticism From Merriam-Webster.
Weather Vane's user avatar
  • 21.4k
11 votes

Should foreign words used in English be inflected for gender, number, and case according to the conventions of their source language?

You must, as always, write for your audience. If you are writing for a technical journal where your audience is multi-lingual, then you should strive to get it absolutely right. That goes without ...
Mick's user avatar
  • 9,420

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