Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now

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151

A lot of the "J" names in English are from the Bible and would have originally been written with an initial I in Latin, as the letter J did not get started until the Renaissance. In modern transliteration of Hebrew these names are written with an initial Y. For example, "Yeʻhoshua" for Joshua, "Yaʻaqov" for Jacob, or "Yirmeyāhū" for Jeremiah/Jeremy/Jerry. ...


123

This is called a Rube Goldberg machine. From Wikipedia: A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered or overdone to perform a very simple task in a very complicated fashion, usually including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg (...


116

My guess is this: the table was produced from a database. The data there was sorted by state, but using a stored value that was the state abbreviation (they would have used the US Postal Service's official state abbreviations). The actual state name was then assigned via a lookup at the time the report was generated. This would be consistent with the ...


92

Because most people are not mathematicians. I know that sounds like a flippant answer, but it's genuinely the answer. There are many words which have a more precise (or even different) meaning for specialists, and the fact is that these words simply have both meanings. The question "Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?" is an all too familiar example: to a ...


79

They would be a "breakroom", or "break room" a place where staff go when they have their breaks. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/breakroom


63

Sean (written "Seán" or "Séan" in Irish) is a Hibernization of the English name "John"; that is, it's a transliteration of "John" into a form which can be pronounced in Irish and written with the Irish alphabet (which nowadays is simply a version of the Roman alphabet). The Irish language does not have the sound /ʤ/ (the sound which ...


60

In the UK I have heard this referred to almost exclusively as the "canteen". The dictionary definition for canteen states: "a restaurant provided by an organization such as a college, factory, or company for its students or staff." However, even when working in organisations where there is no food service (nor even a vending machine), I have still heard it ...


58

This is a general phenomenon and is not limited to Down Syndrome. Here is a reasonable explanation from a doctor: The medical profession has urged since the 1970s the dropping of the possessive S at the end of disease names which were originally named after their discoverers (“eponymous disease names”). The possessive is thought to confuse people by ...


50

The most useful rule — and the most general and the easiest to remember — is simply that you add ’s whenever you actually say an extra /əz/ at the end when forming the possessive, compared with how you say the non-possessive version. Let your own ear be your guide. That’s all there is to it. No fancy rules full of exceptions. Just your own ear (as a native ...


50

combination is an unordered set of numbers That is incorrect in general English. It is called a combination lock because (in general English) a combination is "an ordered sequence" (Merriam-Webster definition 2a). You tagged the question with: etymology, names, and mathematics, but you won't get an answer that combines the three because mathematics/...


48

In this context (greater Toronto) greater means “an area greater than the city itself” and “greater Toronto” is a shortened version of “the greater Toronto area”. Greater describes/modifies area rather than Toronto, giving a size contrast (greater) rather than describing the goodness of the city (great).


47

Lunch room lunch room n. a room, as in a school or workplace, where light meals or snacks can be bought or where food brought from home may be eaten. Source


46

Matt's answer here is close but off in a few regards. The semi-Anglicised Sean is formed by removing the fada (accute accent) from the Irish name Seán. It is a Gaelicisation (more specific than Hibernisation) of the Norman-French name Jehan which makes it cognate of the English John with both coming from the Old-French Jehan but in the case of the English ...


43

The name of this device dates back to the year 1908. It comes from French ornithoptère meaning a machine designed to fly be mechanical flapping of wings. Here, Greek ornitho- meaning brid + Greek -pteron meaning "wing". So, we have the word ornithopter. A machine designed to achieve flight by means of flapping wings. "In collaboration with ...


41

The simple answer is... Alfred Tennyson was created a hereditary baron, 1st Baron Tennyson. Barons are known by their title, Lord Tennyson, preceded if necessary by their Christian name. The same applies to current Life Barons, who are not created with hereditary titles. Thus it's John, Lord Prescott of Kingston-upon-Hull. Sons of hereditary peers are ...


34

The -sex suffix is from Anglo-Saxon / Old English, with the actual meaning being "Saxon". Sussex is essentially "South Saxon". Middlesex is "Middle Saxon". Essex is "East Saxon". Wessex is "West Saxon".​​​​​​​ Most of the wiki pages for these places will have the toponymy definition.


30

This word has an almost identical connotation but seems to have shifted in meaning in modern American usage towards almost requiring that the thing/person in question is named after whatever/whoever is mentioned. (Wikipedia:) Namesake is a term used to characterize a person, place, thing, quality, action, state, or idea that has the same, or a similar, ...


30

Consider cafeteria. a lunchroom or dining hall, as in a factory, office, or school, where food is served from counters or dispensed from vending machines OR where food brought from home may be eaten. (Random House) a dining area, as at a school or office building, where meals may be purchased or brought from home and eaten. (AHD)


29

Some relevant articles: "Whose name is it anyway? Varying patterns of possessive usage in eponymous neurodegenerative diseases", by Michael R. MacAskill and Tim J. Anderson (2013), and "The synthetic genitive in medical eponyms: Is it doomed to extinction?", by John H. Dirckx (2001). The abstract to the MacAskill and Anderson article says The PubMed ...


28

It seems that the current consensus is “don’t change” (-ys). Swan 2005 cautiously says that "proper nouns usually [emphasis mine - Alex B.] have ys". the Kennedys (not the Kennedies) There’s a punk band, Dead Kennedys http://www.deadkennedys.com/; there’s also aTV show, The Kennedys. the Willoughbys the Wolfs (not the Wolves) the Henrys the two ...


27

Great means big, greater means bigger. So Greater Manchester is the larger metropolitan area around the city of Manchester in the middle. However, Great Britain is the larger of the two separate and distinct Britains, the other being Brittany in north-west France. In French, Great Britain is Grande Bretagne and Brittany is just Bretagne. Brittany has also ...


25

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 capitalization. For example, we have: Tommy gun, or the Thompson submachine gun, for inventor John T. Thompson (Wikipedia) Molly or Molotov cocktail, in mockery of ...


24

While you may choose a nickname to differentiate in daily use, for legal or genealogical purposes, she is a "junior." According to Wikipedia: The most common name suffixes are senior and junior, most frequent in American usage, which are written with a capital first letter ("Jr." and "Sr.") with or without an interceding comma. The British English ...


24

I believe this is because the name element (now) usually expressed "Mc" is actually an abbreviation for "Mac"; at one time, superscript (often with an underline or under dots) was a common way of writing abbreviations without resort to an apostrophe. This is preserved in the symbol № for "number". You can see an example of this in the signature on the ...


22

You certainly do not want to use full spaces within strings of initials. Indeed, you quite possibly do not want to use any spaces at all. It depends whether we are talking about text generated under the tyranny of the typewriter or text that is to be professionally typeset. With a typewriter, you should not use any spaces, but when typeset, smaller spaces ...


22

Christen means to name, or to dedicate ceremonially. Also dub means to honor with a new title (as in "I dub thee Sir Gawain, Knight of the Round Table")


21

I think this is a mild hyperforeignism that comes from an attempt to pronounce “Naomi” more like the original Hebrew: nah-oh-mee [na.o.mi]. The [ao] sequence is uncommon in English—and because there are two separately stressed syllables in this case, they cannot merge into ow [aʊ]. Thus an epenthetic /y/ [j] sound appears, giving nah-yo-mee [na.joʊ.mi]. This ...


21

It's your name. You can express it however you like. On the periods (or full stops) between initials, though: it seems that they're still common in the US, but have largely been dropped in most of the rest of the English-speaking world. It also depends on house styles: some US papers, for example, still refer to the B.B.C., which just looks weird to UK ...


20

Well, what do cookbooks contain? Recipes! What is a recipe? recipe, n. : a set of instructions for making something As the blurb on the cover of this book says, it contains recipes "for taking control of automated testing using powerful Python testing tools." One of my favorite programming cookbooks, the C++ Cookbook, contains recipes for creating ...


19

The answer is that the expression is based on how we, as humans, interpret geography. We refer to smaller, relatively unknown areas by the name of a larger, more well-known, area the smaller area is near. By saying "Greater Toronto", we identify the city of Toronto and the smaller areas close by, at the same time acknowledging that these smaller areas are ...


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