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.

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68 views

Why does “is” have /z/ sound and “this” have /s/ sound?

The standard pronunciation of "is" is /ɪz/. I looked up its etymology and saw that its pronunciation in Middle English was /iːs/, with /s/. In Old English, it was also /iːs/ On the other ...
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156 views

Pronunciation difference of “arch” in “archenemy” and “monarch”

Yesterday I was watching Pokémon where I encountered this word "archenemy". It is definitely not the first time I am hearing it, though it is the first time I am putting thought into it. ...
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Why are the pronunciations of IRON and IRONY different?

I got 2 excellent answers to my previous question Why is “iron” pronounced “EYE-URN” but not “EYE-RUN”?. Now I wonder about iron and irony (and ironic). The top voted answer by Void suggests that the ...
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Why sister [nouns] and not brother [nouns]?

I have noticed this quite often that other (closely) related common nouns are called sister [common noun]. For example: This question is off-topic here, but is on-topic on our sister site. This issue ...
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Is “solicitor” a noun form derived from “solicit”, or do they have totally different word origins?

I recently came across the word "solicit", but I didn't know its meaning although I know what "solicitor" is. Based on my existing knowledge about "solicitor", I guessed ...
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22 views

Where does the phrase “I'm so shook/shocked/shaken” come from?

I have often seen people say this phrase using these different words to convey the same idea of being surprised about something. I have debated with people about the proper word to use in the phrase. ...
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138 views

The silent “u”: “forty” and “fourteen”

We all know that the cardinal and ordinal numbers 4 and 4th are spelled ‘four’ and “fourth” respectively. Then we have 14 and 14th which are spelled “fourteen” and “fourteenth”. Yet the numbers 40 and ...
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60 views

why is the plural form of sheep is not sheeps?

The plural of goat is goats. Even uncountable nouns can have plural forms, e.g. waters (the meaning is slightly different). Some words have two plural forms, like cactuses or cacti. Again, some words ...
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348 views

What is the meaning of “roe” in “roe deer”?

According to Wikipedia, a roe deer is a small, nimble Eurasian deer with no visible tail, a white rump patch, and a reddish summer coat that turns grey in winter, the male having short three-pointed ...
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What the etymology of Netscape brand name? [closed]

Netscape is an old web browser. But can anyone explain the etymology of this word? Is it net+scape or nets+cape, and what is the point in both cases. I feel more logic in nets+cape (geo.), so browser ...
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1answer
34 views

Why is the phrase parent-in-law and not parent-by-law?

Since it's due to the law that they are his/her parents by proxy, why isn't the phrase 'by-law' instead of 'in-law'?
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1answer
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Is there any relationship between *bearing* and *bear*?

Why adding -ing after bear becomes totally another word bearing whose meaning seems had nothing to do with a bear? + -ing becomes . Was there any relationship between the two words?
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Is it: 'They and I?' Or: 'Them and I?' Or: 'Them and me?' Or something else?

This is purely for communication via online social media for the proper use of a phrase which I am unsure of its proper structure; which of the following is proper use: 1.) They and I, 2.) Them and I,...
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210 views

What does the saying “Don’t feel pregnant” mean?

My dad sometimes says “Don’t feel pregnant” when I tell him how I’m feeling. For instance, I’ll tell him “I feel like all I do is work”, he’ll say “Don’t feel pregnant”. I think it may mean “ Don’t ...
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33 views

Cocktail etymology

I was told that the word cocktail, when it was invented, was created from the union of two words, namely "cock" and "tail". I tried to check this claim using google, but was not able to come to any ...
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4answers
102 views

The history of the word “gay” [closed]

When did the word "gay" which initially had a meaning "merry" and "happy" gain another connotation which is now thought to be preliminary? As I understand, the word in the main old meaning was an ...
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Alternate definition of “type up” in a historical context

I found an alternate use of "type up," and to my avail, I cannot find this use anywhere else online. I saw this in a 1928 letter, with "type up with" meaning "meet the standards/requirements of" Eg: ...
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82 views

Is “job done” etymologically related to “job well done”?

I've been listening to a podcast by a person who grew up in England, and he often uses the phrase "job done" to mean "that's that" or something similar. I, however, having grown up in the United ...
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1answer
44 views

French letters in English

The English language has a great amount of borrowings from French. But why aren't such letters as "ç"(façade) and "é"(café, protégé) changed if they don't exist in the English alphabet and there are "...
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1answer
28 views

School and school of fish

Why is a group of fish called "school"? And is it anyhow etymologically connected with the word "school" denoting an educational establishment?
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The word “attendance” and “at ten dance”?

When I was at college, my English teachers used to say that the word attendance was derived from at ten dance. In schools the children used to dance at Ten AM in the British Rule and slowly it ...
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4answers
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Grammatical structure of stuck being told

I came across the phrase here: http://www.personal.kent.edu/~wkneelan/thirdoption/essays/tmnt_music.htm The listener or viewer is therefore stuck being told what is just as easily observed I tried ...
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1answer
60 views

Definitions that are not included in modern dictionaries

I was translating some literature written in the 20th century, and I came across the following sentence We suppress these partitions and by Google translate, the "suppress" means “make obscure”. ...
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2answers
98 views

What's the origin of “price of fish”?

I heard an old song by Scooter where he sings "How much is the fish?", realizing that it sounds so irrelevant and stupid that it might be something idiomatic with it. Turns out it's an expression ...
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1answer
258 views

Why is 1000$ called a 'grand'?

Recently I have noticed that people (especially in the USA) call each 1000$ as a 'grand'. "It costs 48 grand" = "It costs 48 thousand USD" I have got two related questions about it: Why is it ...
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2answers
69 views

Why is the head master not The Head Master?

Head Master is the Head of an Institute.We usually write The Principal in upper case. Why is the word head master written in a lower case.
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53 views

Is “add two and two” an idiom?

"Somebody Stupefied a Death Eater on top of the Tower after Dumbledore died. There were also two broomsticks up there. The Ministry can add two and two, Harry." Harry Potter and the Half-Blood ...
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1answer
35 views

How can we be sure about etymology?

It's common to hear words protagonist and antagonist. And based on the way they sound, and their opposit meaning, I always thought that they should have the same etymon, with pro and an being prefixes ...
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5answers
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Are “confidant” and “confident” homophones?

Both sound like /-dənt/ to me. Etymology: confidant comes to English from the French word confident, and when the word first entered our language it was often spelled that way, rather than as ...
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1answer
24 views

Etymology of words used to start and ask questions

Could you please help me understand the etymology of words used to start questions? I am particularly interested by the words 'how' and 'why'. Thank you!
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2answers
275 views

Is “deload” a legitimate verb?

I was reading something about strength training and I came across that word. I am wondering if that's a legitimate verb? If so, what would be the difference between "deload" and "offload" or even "...
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2answers
89 views

How did “flavored” come to mean “distracted”?

There is a scene in the movie Beautiful Girls: Marty: Are you OK? Willie: Yeah. Yeah, I'm... Why? Marty: You seem a little flavored today. Willie: No! No, I'm cool. Marty: ...
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2answers
100 views

Why is 'left luggage' called 'left luggage'?

I came across this term at an English train station. My friend and I were looking for a place to store our luggage and it didn't occur to us that 'left luggage' was the place we needed to go as it ...
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3answers
104 views

Is “I did not breakfast today” correct?

Is the following sentence correct? I did not breakfast today Due to breakfast coming from ‘to break your fast’.
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1answer
39 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". ...
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3answers
6k 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.
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2answers
115 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 ...
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1answer
35 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 ...
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1answer
4k 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 ...
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1answer
4k 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 ...
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1answer
55 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”
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2answers
544 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?
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1answer
71 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 ...
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7k 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 ...
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1answer
734 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 ...
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3answers
88 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 ...
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2answers
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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) ...
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1answer
296 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" ...
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1k 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’...
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1answer
1k 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 "...