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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60 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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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
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The history of the word “gay”

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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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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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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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
56 views

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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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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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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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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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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To prise open the gap between price and prize

The words "price" and "prize" and "prise" are easily confused. They mean different things*. It is not a difference of writing between US and British English. Part of the confusion is that "price" ...
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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
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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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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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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
108 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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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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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
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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
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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
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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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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
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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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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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3k 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
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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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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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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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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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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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2answers
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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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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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69 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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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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787 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 "...
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1answer
28 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?
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
42 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
731 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 ...
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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 ...
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859 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 ...
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246 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 ...
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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 ...
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321 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?
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79 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 ...
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3answers
6k 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 ...