48

I can try to set it back much further. The Gemara are old Jewish texts. I can not say how old, as today is the first time I heard about them, but surely from before 1842, Wikipedia gives a date of 500 CE. In there, in Sotah 7b, it says (in the English translation by Soncino): All the years that the Israelites were in the wilderness, Judah's bones kept ...


41

-ia is a Latin ending (-ία in Ancient Greek) used to form abstract nouns. In this case, the "abstract" noun referred to a nation, that is, a collection of people and the locations where they lived. For example, the land of the Germani was Germania.


20

'Snitty' through the years The earliest instance I've been able to find of snitty where the word is used in its modern sense (derived from the noun snit) is from Philip Fair, A Marriage Is Arranged: A Love Story (1932) [combined snippets]: They looked up at Gay's step. "'Lo, Gay, ole thing!" from Nance the younger. Gay drew her brows together ...


19

Wentworth & Flexner, Dictionary of American Slang (1960) suggests an extended Irish term: shenanigans n.pl. Tricks, pranks, nonsenses; petty cheating or deception. Since c1870; may be from the Irish "sionnochwigham" = I play tricks. The same source lists "shenanannygag" (also meaning a trick or prank) as being based on shenanigans and "not common." ...


19

from snit n. etymonline "state of agitation, fit of temper," 1939, American English, of unknown origin. First in Claire Boothe's "Kiss the Boys Good-bye," which gives it a U.S. Southern context. The OED registers snitty 1978, an adjective as: slang (orig. and chiefly U.S.). Ill-tempered, sulky. The use of the noun and adjective are infrequent in ...


18

"mama" is a pre-verbal vocalisation by children - usually one of the first sounds that they make. Often infants will say "mamamamama" as one of their first vocalisations, and this often doesn't appear to have any real meaning - it's not clear that they are addressing their mothers or if they are just practising speaking. I don't know why this particular ...


14

I have found an etymological account that carries the Latin verb censeo (a probable root of censor and related terms) back to Proto Indo-European. Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages by Michiel de Vaan includes the following entry: Rather than going to Greek, de Vaan goes to the Proto-Italic *knse-; the star denotes that it is a ...


13

I can push it back a little further, but not much. Here's what Google Books gives for 1700–1849: 1848 – Why, his very bones would turn in his grave at the bare thought of it — Farmers' Library and Monthly Journal of Agriculture, Volume 3 1847 – Could our deceased father hear that, I think he’d turn in his grave. — Rambleton: A Romance of ...


13

The oldest reference I've found in English uses the phrase turn in his coffin, used with the same meaning as that required. It comes from 1802, in The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine (page 28) in the following passage: I should be glad to know what our ancestors would have thought and felt in this situation? what those weak a deluded men, so inferior to ...


13

OED Online offers a comprehensive etymology for alakazam. It says that it is apparently an arbitrary formation, invented to sound like a word in an unspecified foreign language, with the intention of creating an air of exoticism and mystery. For the magical exclamation, OED says that it is perhaps approximately suggested by abracadabra. The earliest form ...


12

From an Irish perspective youse sounds totally fine: The word ye, yis or yous, otherwise archaic, is still used in place of "you" for the second-person plural. Ye'r, Yisser or Yousser are the possessive forms, e.g. "Where are yous going?" https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiberno-English And from Terence Patrick Dolan's Dictionary of Hiberno-English ...


11

In the journey from Old English to what we write today, the ash (Æ) tended to metamorphose into a simple E and various "ae" forms got reduced to just "e": Ælfwyn became Elvin, Æthelræd became Ethelred, aether and aesthetic became ether and esthetic (except when @Cerb spells them), and so on. The distinction was simply planed off over the centuries. When ...


11

I don't think that yikes as an exclamation has any direct connection to yoicks or hoicks, or with yike (the cry of the green woodpecker of Britain and continental Europe, recorded starting in the late 1800s), or with the baby-talk word yikes meaning "likes" and popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s)—or for that matter with yikes in the eighteenth-century ...


10

The British idiom a different kettle of fish and a whole new kettle of fish is related to the North American idiom a whole new ball game. The latter means “a situation that is completely different from a previous one”, whilst the former means “to be completely different from something or someone else that has been talked about”. Nowadays the term kettle is ...


10

J.S. Farmer & W.E. Henley, Slang and Its Analogues (1904) has the following entry for tootsie: Tootsie, subs. (common).—A foot : spec. of women and children. 1897 MARSHALL, Pomes, 46. Towards her two TOOTSIES ... she gazed with a feeling of fear ... But her hose were well veiled from man's sight. John Hotten, The Slang Dictionary: Or, the Vulgar ...


10

The bullet is not new, nor is its name. It has been used by typographers long before the general public caught hold of it. You asked about the origin of the bullet for this purpose. It turns out that the bullet has been used since time immemorial: merely look at Trajan’s Column or Gutenberg’s Bible. Bullet was used by typographers as the name of the mark (...


10

Prescriptivism at its finest. Simply because a word does not have a position in the standard dialect does not mean it is not a word. Regardless, it is clearly from 'you' (the second person pronoun) and the plural 's'. It fills a niche Standard English lacks: differentiation of singular and plural in the second person.


10

An Elephind newspaper database search turns up five matches for boofed as a past-tense verb during the period April 1983 to June 1987, at two university newspapers: the Stanford [California] Daily and the [Houston, Texas] Rice Thresher. Here they are, in chronological order. From Tim Grieve, "Draw Is Over: The Wait Begins," a story about the annual student ...


9

Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, Fifth Edition (1961) offers this entry for sprog: sprog, n. A recruit: R.A.F.: since ca. 1930; by ca. 1939, also—via the Fleet Air Arm—used occ[asionally] by the Navy. H. & P. Origin obscure and debatable (see esp[ecially] Partridge, 1945); but perhaps a reversal of 'frog spawn' (very, ...


9

Dictionary coverage of 'heavens to Betsy' Christine Ammer, The Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés, second edition 2006) has this brief entry for "heavens to Betsy": heavens to Betsy An expression of astonishment, This version of FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, which Charles E, Funk liked well enough to use as the title of one of his books [published in 1955], comes ...


9

"Blood is thicker than water" and its ilk can be traced back to twelfth-century writings, whereas the "blood of the covenant" interpretation is not more than twenty or thirty years old, as far as I can tell (and granted, Wikipedia has helped me greatly in this area). I think that's rather a shame, actually, as I personally prefer the "blood of the covenant" ...


9

You pose what I take to be two questions: (1) Why is 'head hair' two words instead of one (especially given other words like bedroom)? We all know what a car radio, a toaster oven, a graveyard shift and a spring chicken are; I don't think we'd benefit from making them a single word, even if other languages might do so -- indeed French and German have '...


9

Beyond the 1893 instance of “Why is a mouse when it spins?” that the OP found in Robert Overton, Ten Minutes, the earliest examples that a Google Books search yields are from 1897. First, from a letter dated January 28, 1897, to The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal (February 18, 1897): After reading this remarkable paper, one involuntarily recalls a ...


9

'Turk' in reference books J.S. Farmer & W.E. Henley, Slang and Its Analogues (1904) has a fairly lengthy entry for turk: TURK, subs. (old).—1. a sword [other old slang terms for "sword" cited by Farmer & Henley include andrew, fox, and toledo (or tol)]. 1638. Albino and Bellama, 108. That he forthwith unsheath'd his trusty turke, Cald forth that ...


9

As Hot Licks and Max Williams correctly pointed out, mama is probably the simplest sequence for a baby to say. But nobody has yet pointed out the connection between mama and mammary, from Latin mamma - the breast. And a baby at the breast can be heard making mama sounds while suckling. But that doesn't mean that to the baby the sounds mean either mother or ...


9

In most cases, English didn't select the digraph "dj." The digraph is based on French orthography, like the spelling "Tchaikovsky." Although this convention originates in a foreign language, it has become part of the conventions of English spelling, and not only in names such as "Django," but also in some words such as "djinn" (also spelled "jinn"). The ...


8

The phrase means, as you said, 'a different thing.' According to this website: There was, it seems, a custom by which the gentry on the Scottish border with England would hold a picnic by a river. The custom was described by Thomas Newte in his Tour of England and Scotland in 1785: “It is customary for the gentlemen who live near the Tweed to entertain ...


8

The OED says the origin of yonks is unknown and has it from 1968 in the Daily Mail: I rang singer Julie Driscoll... She said: ‘I haven't heard from you for yonks.’ The Shorter Slang Dictionary (Partridge, Beale, Fergusson, 1994) agrees it's from the 1960s and suggests: Probably from years, perhaps influenced by donkey’s years. Donkey's years (also ...


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