DavePhD
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Is the use of the term "bugged" to refer to software bugs in English a worldwide or regional use?
62 votes

Before there were software bugs and software programs that needed to be de-bugged, the term existed and applied to defects or flaws in circuits, machines or operations. From the Index to Radio for ...

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What is a less controversial name for the clothing item known as a "wife-beater" in the United States?
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46 votes

The shirt in the OP is not the best example of what people, at least originally, meant by "wifebeater". Instead, "wifebeater" meant a finely ribbed, thin fabric, white, A-shirt, sold in multipacks ...

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Is "seafood" inclusive of "seaweed"?
28 votes

A state of Connecticut definition (for the purpose of a specific law concerning the requirement of a certificate of registration for the retail sale of seafood) is: "Seafood" means all fresh or ...

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British and American most common term for rubber/eraser shavings
26 votes

One term is "eraser rubbings". For example the 1915 British book Surveying & field work: a practical text-book on surveying says: Keep the plan as clean as possible, by covering up the ...

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Is "went out like stink, died like a pig" just an unfortunate choice of words?
26 votes

Swimming like stink, means swimming with full intensity. Two historical examples: For 1935: The Scottish Bookman There were also a few (minor) difficulties such as (c) nobody had thought to weigh ...

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What's the origin of "wife-beater" when used as a sleeveless shirt and why is it not frowned upon?
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18 votes

Three 1970s sources show that literal wife-beaters were already associated with wearing (just) undershirts by then. Wife Beating: The Silent Crisis (1977) says: Conventional wisdom depicts the ...

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Is "women men girls love meet die" a valid sentence?
16 votes

The original source of the sentence is Eric Wanner (1980) “The ATN and the Sausage Machine: Which One is Baloney?” Cognition, volume 8, pages 209-225. Wanner also republished as "The Parser's ...

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How can I order eggs "over hard" in the UK?
15 votes

According to the article The Importance of Serving a British Breakfast in Caterer & Hotelkeeper (which is a British journal): At our hotel, for example, we offer a full-choice British breakfast. ...

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Is the word "stool" an informal word or a formal word?
12 votes

"Stool" is more formal than poop or poo but sometimes more comfortable to say than feces or excrement. You could say "I've been having loose stool" to express that you don't quite ...

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Is there a word that means "a force that formed the universe from an original chaos?"
10 votes

Creator For example from Platonic Idealism in Overland Monthly, October 1890, at page 391: The Creator formed the universe out of chaos

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What does "arruginated" mean?
10 votes

In an 1888 Bible with commentary1 it is stated concerning Ecclesiasticus 12:10 of the King James version: Rather, for as the bronze is covered with rust [ = contracteth rust; Vet Lat. aeruginat] ...

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Why is the BrE “petrol” called "gas" in AmE?
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10 votes

The word "gasoline" originated by 1864. US Patent No. 45,568, dated 20 December 1864, explains: One of the products obtained from the distillation of petroleum is a colorless liquid having ...

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What did Bannon mean when he said that Rice "operationalized" the NSC?
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10 votes

The meaning is explained in the book Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power: This mission is often cited as marking the “...

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How do Americans refer to their non-metric system in everyday circumstances?
10 votes

As above, the most popular general term for the whole system is "English units". However, for wrenches, nuts and bolts, the term "standard" is used. "Standard" also implies that binary fractions (1/...

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Is "widower" the only word that adds a suffix for men?
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9 votes

According to An Easy English Grammar for Beginners (1864): There are three words in the English language which derive the masculine form from the feminine. These are widower, gander, and drake. ...

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Is "spilled milk" a 1600's era euphemism regarding rejected intercourse?
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8 votes

The association of the phrase "spilled milk" with Benjamin Bannaker's grandmother occurred much later than the 1600s. The first account of Bannaker's grandparents (Memoir of Benjamin ...

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Was "man" a gender-neutral word in common usage at some point?
8 votes

The 1662 A Brief and Easie Explanation of the Shorter Catechism says: Q.[...] Did God create man both Male, and Female, after his own Image? ... A. God created Man, Male and Female, after his ...

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Is "hangman" a gender neutral term?
8 votes

Hangperson has been used. The first use I see is an article titled all too common hangperson Library Association Record, Volume 78 (1976). Next is The New Yorker Volume 58 (1982): Offscreen, ...

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What is an "alternative fact"?
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8 votes

"Alternative facts" is a US legal practice phrase that is over 100 years old. For example: From Family Law in Practice: Provided the alternative facts or the alternative interpretation you ...

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Word for fake religious people
8 votes

In Name Only , sometimes abbreviated CINO, CHINO or XINO when applied to Christians. Pope Francis used this phrase 9 February 2014. Apparently there is even a song titled CINO (Christian In Name ...

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The use of the term 'gentlewoman'
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7 votes

"Gentlewoman" is constantly being used in the US House of Representatives. For example: The gentlewoman is recognized for 5 minutes. ... Will the gentlewoman yield? ... I ...

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Is there a word or idiom that refers to "short distance", other than "walkable" and "a stone's throw"?
7 votes

Yonder , which, according to Anthropology and Human Movement, means within visible range. Mostly this is a country/red-neck term in the US now. I've definitely heard people use it in conversation ...

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Did a movie give the final blow to the usage of the term "negro"?
7 votes

There is no one point when Negro stopped being used. A now-small, mostly elderly, group of Americans still prefers to self-identify as "Negro". For example Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett ...

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Origin and evolution of the term "populist"
7 votes

A 2 June 1891 The Progressive Farmer, Winston, North Carolina, newspaper article explains the origin of the new term: HE IS A POPULIST There must be some short and easy way of designating a member of ...

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Captain America said "if you get killed, walk it off!" How to understand "walk it off"?
7 votes

The implication of "walk it off" is not just ignore the problem and hope it gets better, but instead that the walking will actually be beneficial. For example, in baseball, if someone is hit ...

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Origins of the 'editorial we' and its counterpart, the 'editorial I'
6 votes

There is an article on this topic in the 12 July 1823 Niles' Weekly Register (published in Baltimore, Maryland, USA), at page 289: "THE FIRST PERSON SINGULAR." When it was resolved to published ...

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What does "Rubber off of dust" mean?
6 votes

The 1832 book Sketches of the Life, Writings, and Opinions of Thomas Jefferson explains it this way: He carried with him to Congress in the year 1775 a reputation for great literary acquirements. ...

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Origin of going "number 1" or "number 2" in the bathroom
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6 votes

I've deleted my other answer because A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English says "number one" and "number two" are from the late 1800s, citing to Joseph Manchon's 1923 Le ...

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Where does "dead man walking" come from?
6 votes

Yes, it is originally from a religious writing. The oldest example I see is in a 1765 English translation of The philosophical dictionary for the pocket, defining the word "miracle": An eclipse ...

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Wafer -- New Adjective or Attributive Noun?
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6 votes

This is not a particularly new use in discussing British government. The 1970 book The battle of Downing Street says: The wafer majority of his Government... The 1976 book Walking on the ...

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