Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 174 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

Questions tagged [etymology]

This tag is for questions about the historical origin of a word. Please consider asking this question on English Language & Usage (http://english.stackexchange.com/) instead.

0
votes
1answer
34 views

Etymological relation between different meaning of “kid”

I looked up kid and got two different meanings. (of a goat) give birth deceive (someone) in a playful way; tease Both are known to me in meanings such as "I'm kidding you" and "it's not my kid". ...
0
votes
3answers
30 views

Why does “blue” mood, means “sad mood”?

Why does "blue mood" means "sad mood"? Why is the color blue associated with sadness? According to Cambridge dictionary "blue" means sad or unhappy.
0
votes
2answers
25 views

Why the word remnants not reminants?

I understand the word "remain", but I cannot understand why it's remina-nts, it looks like someone incorrectly write down the word re-main into re-mina, so hilarious.... Not to be offend because I ...
0
votes
0answers
31 views

How can 'fulsome' be 'a case of ironic understatement'?

Please see the bold sentence, from Etymonline: fulsome (adj.) mid-13c., "abundant, plentiful," Middle English compound of ful "full" (see full (adj.)) + -som "to a considerable degree" (see -...
0
votes
1answer
23 views

The origins of xbow

"xbow", sometimes spelled "x-bow", "XBow" or even "x bow", is a common contraction in the gaming environment which means "crossbow". Having started gaming as a child, I've never paid too much ...
1
vote
1answer
470 views

Why the p in “receipt” is not pronounced?

Is there any known pronunciation rule that justifies the p in "receipt" not being pronounced, does it have to do with the origin of the word or something or how it is? Why the p in "receipt" is not ...
0
votes
1answer
872 views

Are brown and maroon different colors?

I make this question because in my language Spanish, brown is translated as marrón, and both marrón and maroon looks related in origins (same with the french marron I suppose). If they are all related ...
0
votes
1answer
31 views

A problem about the etymology of “expiate”

How to explain the etymology of the word “expiate”? I found that ex means “out, for” and piate means “pious”. But I dont see how they combine to mean “to atone for”
0
votes
2answers
111 views

Does the “ass” in “smart-ass”, “lard ass” etc. mean “smart donkey” or “smart butt”?

What's the literal meaning of ‘ass’ in expressions like ‘lard-ass’, ‘hard-ass’, ‘smart-ass’,… etc.? Does ass here in such expressions mean donkey or butt?
1
vote
1answer
42 views

Any reason for being called 'Chicken Fingers', given it's not made from fingers of chicken at all?

Originally, I thought Chicken Fingers is made from the fingers of chickens. But after I saw this Wiki article, it's actually made from "the pectoralis minor muscles of the animal". So, I'm curious ...
9
votes
6answers
4k views

Why does the phrase “cross my fingers' mean just ”cross middle finger over index finger"?

Originally, I thought "cross my fingers' would mean something like this picture shows: But by a search for the phrase "cross my fingers images" on the web, I get most of pictures like this: So, I ...
3
votes
1answer
128 views

What is the meaning of “lug” in “lug nut”?

From Wikipedia: A lug nut or wheel nut is a fastener, specifically a nut, used to secure a wheel on a vehicle. Typically, lug nuts are found on automobiles, trucks (lorries), and other large ...
1
vote
2answers
32 views

A word describing a word of mixed-language etymology

I am looking for a word that denotes a word composed of at least two parts, at least one of which is from a different language than the other(s); a word with mixed etymology. An example is antimatter ...
1
vote
2answers
60 views

Why does “Hand Waving” have a meaning “omitting important details”?

From urban dictionary: Also written handwaving. In formal conversation / speech omitting important details about the subject matter either because 1) the audience is perceived to be ignorant 2) ...
0
votes
1answer
52 views

What is the historical background of “too chicken”?

In a comment I found the sentence: …are too chicken… I'm native Germany and quickly looked up the meaning. Still, I do not understand the "chicken" association. My question: Why is "chicken" ...
-1
votes
1answer
236 views

Words derived from ‘veni’ and ‘vidi’ of Latin [closed]

Veni, vidi, vici (Classical Latin: [ˈweːniː ˈwiːdiː ˈwiːkiː]; "I came; I saw; I conquered") is a Latin phrase popularly attributed to Julius Caesar. Veni, vidi, vici - Wikipedia As for ‘vici’, there’...
2
votes
1answer
199 views

Questions about “Bad things come in twos/threes”?

In Chinese, we have a proverb: 祸不单行, meaning bad things seem always to happen in a pair. The phase has been translated as "bad things happen in twos". However, I also see a common phrase in English "...
1
vote
1answer
22 views

How to imagine 'pull oneself together' is relevant to calm oneself down

pull oneself together means calm oneself down and begin to think or act appropriately. I am wondering how they are relevant and how to understand it?
2
votes
2answers
34 views

Show me the difference between the following suffixes?

Could you please show the difference in meaning of the suffix “-hood” and “-ship”, especially when they met at the same line to imply “a state or condition” To me, they both sound the same. For ...
1
vote
1answer
33 views

Interpret demystify literally

I am getting under way to learn vocabulary in etymology. The word demystify in Online Etymology Dictionary de - "not, do the opposite of, undo" mystify - 1814, from French mystifier (1772), a ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Etymology of “dog slow”

When I think of dogs I have an image of them being fast animals, running and jumping, chasing a ball or another dog. So, I am surprised that dog slow means very slow. What is the etymology of this ...
4
votes
1answer
600 views

What is the origin of “brake” in “press brake”?

A press brake is a machine tool for bending sheet and plate material, most commonly sheet metal. But why is it called brake? Why not press sheet bender? How did it come to be called brake? I looked ...
0
votes
1answer
770 views

Where does “jump off the deep end” come from?

I know "jump off the deep end" means to abruptly step into something but I'd like to know what it means in terms of actual physical jumping - because you usually "jump off" something not deep. What ...
7
votes
5answers
591 views

What are the differences between “receptacle” and “container”?

Generally, both "receptacle" and "container" refer to an object that contains some other object(s). What are the differences between these two words? Do they differ in meaning, usage, or origin? I ...
1
vote
1answer
123 views

“rearing” without a mother fish?

http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/pugetsound/species/salmon_cyc.html this is the source providing sufficient information about the life cycle of salmon. From the article we could see that the life ...
0
votes
1answer
27 views

Capsized ship or boat

When a boat or ship sinks after turning over its sides we say it capsized. How did this word originate? The meaning seems little to do either with a cap or its size or tailoring a cap to a size or ...
0
votes
1answer
199 views

The word “Wednesday”

Why does the word Wednesday read as Wenzday? Where do its roots grow? All the other days of the week read as they are written but not Wednesday. Why hasn't the spelling changed over the years?
0
votes
1answer
74 views

Pink and Blue phenomenon

Have the words Pink and Blue that mean sexual orientation come from the phenomenon that girls choose pink color and boys choose blue color? Which is all absolutely wrong in fact, considering that pink ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Using “like” at the end of the sentence. North-East like?

I've lived in the North-East of England for over 10 years now but I always wondered about this particular usage of the word "like". For years I have heard countless sentences or questions that sound ...
1
vote
3answers
262 views

Through and through

This word means the complete degree of penetration and you seem to double the "through" to make it sound stronger. I wonder, in Russian you say "along and across" to mean that you know something "...
-1
votes
1answer
286 views

What is the verb for amenable? [closed]

amenable has a suffix -able. Does it mean that the verb for amenable is amend? Thanks.
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Why do identical words such as: “uttermost” and “utmost” coexist?

Let's take two words: uttermost utmost As I can see it that they are identical. They aren't two different words that have the exact same meaning, in fact "uttermost" is just another word for "utmost"...
8
votes
2answers
378 views

McCoy, decoy, and coy

A “McCoy” means something that is truly genuine. The idiomatic expression, “the real McCoy” is used when the speaker wants to emphasize the purity the authenticity of something. It is said to derive ...
1
vote
1answer
118 views

Origin of “run for it” idiom [closed]

According to dictionary.com: run for it, to hurry away or flee, especially to evade something: You had better run for it before anyone else arrives. Does this idiom have some reasonable origin? ...
0
votes
1answer
285 views

Why is “cat” alike to the corresponding word in other languages whereas “dog” is not? [closed]

I realized that cat sounds very alike to other indoeuropean languages (katze, katt, kot, gato) while dog is wildly different. I can't find any language where dog is spelled nor pronounced doggishly (...
2
votes
1answer
465 views

‘Andersen’ and 'Anderson' – related? [closed]

"Andersen" is the surname of the famous Danish fairy tale writer, Hans Christian Andersen. "Anderson" is a common surname in Anglophone countries. Do they have the same root?
-2
votes
1answer
307 views

The word “Jaggernaut” originated from an Indian word [closed]

What is it ? Does anyone know the real meaning ?
15
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is a “coat of arms” called so? [closed]

When I first encountered the coat of arms term, I failed to understand it correctly, trying literal meanings: coat - an outer garment with sleeves, worn outdoors and typically extending below the ...
1
vote
2answers
327 views

An objection-objective relationship

I know that objective stands for impartial aka unbiased whereas an objection means a protest, an opposition. I do not see how opposition is related to impartial unbiasnes. How did the word split into ...
15
votes
3answers
6k views

What does the nutshell in “in a nutshell” stand for?

I know the meaning of “in a nutshell” but do not know what “nutshell” or “nut” itself stands for in this idiom. Since it is a metaphor, I would like to know what it recalls to the speakers/listeners’ ...
0
votes
3answers
316 views

Why doesn't “aversion” correspond to “aver”?

I thought that the noun "aversion" was derived from the verb "aver". However, it seems they have different meanings. My question is, how can an English learner know such nouns? I don't think there ...
27
votes
6answers
9k views

Why it is called 'Black Friday'?

In the Western countries like USA and Canada, there is a shopping fest(festival) called Black Friday, I wonder why the word 'black' is added to it? I think the 'word' black denotes some negativity ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does “if it weren't for XXX” mean “if XXX didn't exist”?

How has "if it weren't for" got the meaning of use this when you would do something different if a particular situation did not exist now (the definition of "if it weren't for" in LDOCE) ? EDIT ...
10
votes
3answers
159 views

How were subject names decided and why?

I'm not sure if this question is okay to be posted to ell.se, as I don't know if it is obvious for native speakers or not, that: physics and mathematics both ends with '-ics', while sociology and ...
28
votes
4answers
4k views

Why is the adjective for “mutate” not “mutatable”?

The adjective for "mutate" is "mutable", and not "mutatable". I wonder why the last two letters (-te) have been removed before adding "-able" to the end of it. Is there any rule? Any similar ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

What's the etymology of “in virtue of”?

I know the phase "in virtue of" means because or as a result of. But I also know the single word "virtue" is used to mean moral life and conduct. It comes to me so obscure to bind these two meanings ...
1
vote
1answer
657 views

Why are setup windows called “wizard”?

Commonly, the word "wizard" means "someone who practices magic; a sorcerer or magician." FreeDictionary In software wizard is "an user interface type that presents an user with a sequence of dialog ...
1
vote
2answers
813 views

What does 'pick up' mean in: The questions are picked up in the … cognitive science tradition

I'll reword the phase "picked up" as "improved" in the following context Please kindly point it out if I am wrong. I'm curious about whether "pick up" has the meaning "improve". What's its etymology? ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

“Funny”: origin and evolution of the peculiar side of things?

The adjective "funny" (from fun) is relatively recent: Funny (adj.) "humorous," 1756, from fun (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "strange, odd, causing perplexity" is by 1806, said to be originally U.S. ...
1
vote
3answers
81 views

Data loss. How is it used in different ways

When a harddisk fails there can be data loss. Which I understand. But when the network gets hacked and hackers obtain creditcard details they also say it's a data loss. But in the last case the data ...