Questions tagged [etymology]

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98 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) ...
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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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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
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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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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
68 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
818 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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2k 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 ...
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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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1answer
404 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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43 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 ...
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2answers
428 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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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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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 ...
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3answers
424 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 "...
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What is the verb for amenable? [closed]

amenable has a suffix -able. Does it mean that the verb for amenable is amend? Thanks.
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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"...
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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 ...
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1answer
269 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? ...
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1answer
453 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 (...
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‘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?
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The word “Jaggernaut” originated from an Indian word [closed]

What is it ? Does anyone know the real meaning ?
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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 ...
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2answers
544 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 ...
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3answers
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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’ ...
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458 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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4answers
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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 ...
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4answers
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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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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2answers
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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 &...
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2answers
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“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. ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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Why does 'disposed' mean 'inclined'?

When we use disposed as an adjective, we mean "inclined or willing" in some contexts. E.g. James didn't seem disposed to take the hint. I think the primary meaning of dispose is get rid of. Why does ...
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2answers
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a fighting for the glory - how do you understand this type of grammar?

A stanza from a song called John Paul Jones by Johnny Horton: When John Paul was a captain in the U.S. Naval Band A fightin' for the glory and the freedom of our land He made those British ...
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2answers
8k views

What is the origin of the phrase “something is fishy” [closed]

I have heard this phrase quite a few times and I am curious what is the origin of this phrase?
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I am curious. Curious in copula construction. Ambiguity? Convention?

I would love to hear in which way curious means either "interested" or "interesting/peculiar". I never know whether I am curious or curious. This related question adds some other ...
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4answers
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What's the relation between “categorical” and “category”?

categorical and category look quite similar. I also search the etymology on google as follows, which shows there is a connection between them. But categorical means "unambiguously explicit and direct",...
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1answer
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What does “tiger” mean when applied to a person (profession)?

I've trouble with this passage from Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens (The Great Wingleburry Duel): ‘That’s the young Nobleman,’ replied the lady, with a great stress on the last word. ‘Dear Lord ...
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1answer
183 views

Why named 'deduction' and 'induction'? [closed]

I want to dredge below these two terms; I'm not asking about the definition or concept, which I perceive thanks to http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/dedind.php and my math studies. How do ...
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2answers
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How does “to discharge” develop to mean “to do everything necessary to perform and complete a duty”? [closed]

What's the logical derivation behind definition 3 of to discharge: 3. Do all that is required to perform (a duty) or fulfil (a responsibility): How does the etymology (listed in that link and here)...
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1answer
452 views

What's the logic behind this definition of 'to hold' ? [closed]

I'd like to dredge below this (legal?) definition of to hold, that differ from the norm. 5.6. (Of a judge or court) rule; decide: Would someone please explain the etymology and the reasoning ...
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1answer
275 views

Why does 'wilful' = 'willful' connote negativity?

Definition 1 is negative. I'm guessing so is Definition 2, because of 'stubborn' and 'regardless of the consequences'. 1. I'm flummoxed: Why? Doesn't the noun will connote positivity (its etymology: ...
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1answer
983 views

How does 'according as' = 'Depending on whether' ? [closed]

I've read the definition and am not asking about it: according as = 'Depending on whether' Instead, I'd like to learn how to anatomize/unravel according as to determine/deduce this definition on ...
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2answers
576 views

How to reason the etymology - “to proscribe” [closed]

Would someone please explain the etymology behind this verb? I'm aware of the etymological fallacy, but still want to dredge below and ask not about its definition. Down below on that webpage, it'...
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1answer
94 views

Translation of snuff movies

I'd like to know where does the term snuff film come from. After some research I've found the correspondence to snuff out = to die in French but I'm not sure of the translation. What's its exact ...