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Questions tagged [history]

Use this tag for questions relating to English word origins and historical usage. Note that such questions may be better served on the English Language and Usage site.

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2answers
87 views

Am I reading this wrong? Or is my understanding anachronical?

I started reading this short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, What to Do About It, published in 1933. And the story starts with a character trying to free a wheel from a tirelock: [...] he continued ...
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0answers
11 views

What does “up through” mean? [duplicate]

I'm reading a history book and there is a sentence that really confuses me: up through the twelfth century What time does it indicate exactly?
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1answer
190 views

Why is the letter W called 'double U' rather than 'double V'? [closed]

Why is the letter W called double 'U' rather than double 'V'? If we look well at this letter it looks as a combination of two (=double) V letters, so why is it referred as double 'U' rather than ...
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1answer
43 views

debitum - dette - debt

I would like to know if there is an explanation for presence of "b" in the word "debt" in the contemporary English. Google says that in Middle English this word was written as "dette". Why then "b" ...
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1answer
445 views

Letter combination ea

The alphabet letter combination ea makes 6 sounds: bread [bred], teacher ['tiːʧə], break [breɪk], idea [aɪ'dɪə], pageant ['pæʤənt], bearable ['beərəbl]. I know that that the fact that the same ...
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1answer
94 views

What's the provenance of the phrase “bob's your uncle”?

Today I saw in my English class that the phrase "Bob's your uncle" is used to say when the people reach an objective, for example: My house is in Mexico City, at Eje Central, you go to the Torre ...
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2answers
1k views

Age + “years old”

If I say "She is seventeen", is it as correct as "She is seventeen year old"? I know it's correct, because it's used, but are both as correct or the first one is only tolerated? When did this ...
4
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1answer
500 views

What is the plurality of the word “news”?

I thought the plurality could be not much of a matter because it has a letter "s" in the end but each news is counted as a news article or newspaper or so. But after reading this passage by ...
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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"...
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0answers
396 views

Ancient English 101

I'm trying to make alerting messages on my website feel old-fashioned. Is there any straightforward approach to translate modern English into ancient English? I can't tell which exact stage of English ...
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1answer
92 views

The story behind Offline / Online

Everybody is using those phrases but I've never asked that question. What is really behind the words Online and Offline? As an extension I'm also asking: Are those phrases still valid nowadays when ...
4
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1answer
131 views

Why does *spot* mean “to help someone with weights”?

Thanks to a recent question on ELL, I discovered a new meaning of spot. User @John Feltz defined it as: In a gym, to "spot" for someone means to help them with heavy weights The Oxford Dictionary ...
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3answers
3k views

What is the history behind “Blonde moment”?

Why when someone does something stupid they use "blonde moment"? Isn't it racist or sexist? I am not blond, but to me it is not polite to say such a thing.
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1answer
983 views

“Sinbad” vs. “Sindbad”?

In Arabic, I see it written and pronounced as "Sindbad", but "Sinbad" seems to be the original one. How should we write/pronounce it, "Sinbad" OR "Sindbad"?
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4answers
933 views

Why are “software”, “advice”, and “information” uncountable?

Sometimes in English I encounter words which are uncountable, while they may be countable in my native language causing some mistakes in my sentences, and I wonder why they are uncountable. For ...
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3answers
592 views

The use of a comma in dates

I am a Dutch author and I am writing a book about Ancient Egypt with lots of dates. My question is: can I use for instance 4,510 B.C.E. instead of 4510 B.C.E. Is there a rule for using the comma in ...
3
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2answers
262 views

What's the grammatical structure of “All is number” by Pythagoras

I heard Pythagoras's this saying in Korean several times before but I didn't know actual English sentence was "All is number". Does this 'All' used as a noun? (but some dictionaries don't list noun ...
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4answers
3k views

Should I use hippopotami?

When should I replace an 'us' with an 'i'? Are the following words valid? Hippopotami (plural of hippopotamus) Virii (plural of virus) Bonii (plural of bonus) When should I use 'i' and when ...
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2answers
148 views

Grammaticality - 'why should we make us merry'? (1892 UK)

Source: Act 1, Scene 3, The Foresters, by Alfred Tennyson “...if this life of ours Be a good glad thing, why should we make us merry Because a year of it is gone? but Hope Smiles from the threshold ...
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5answers
2k views

What is Latin Grammar?

Another product of the eighteenth century was the invention of "English grammar". As English came to replace Latin as the language of scholarship, it was felt that one should also be able to control ...
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1answer
331 views

How come US Date format is month/day/year? [closed]

Whenever I read a US date I have the problem of figuring out what each number represents. So when I see: 10/11/12 I assume it means "10th November 2012" (which would be the norm for my country) or "...
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1answer
3k views

What is the relationship name of my in-law's sister/brother and their children?

I want to know how to call few relations like: my brother-in-law's sister brother-in-law's sister's son/daughter sister-in-law's brother sister-in-law's brother's son/daughter
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1answer
576 views

How to differentiate between regular and irregular verbs

As I know that in regular verbs we put 'ed' and in irregular verb we do not put 'ed' while changing it into the past or past participle. But for anyone who does not know about the 2nd and 3rd form of ...
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2answers
4k views

Meaning and Usage of “as to be”

The following question is motivated by another question, now removed by the OP, and that I feel it didn't received enough attention. More than a decade later, about the time that our feudalism was ...
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1answer
5k views

“Canal” vs. “Channel” [closed]

Canal: n. An artificial waterway or artificially improved river used for travel, shipping, or irrigation. Channel: n. Electronics A specified frequency band for the transmission and reception of ...
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2answers
7k views

Verbs ending in -th

Sometimes especially when I am reading books or quotes, I encounter verbs ending in -th. Is that an arcaic form? How should I properly translate them?
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4answers
56k views

Usage of “Rain check”

From time to time I hear the phrase rain check. For instance I have to take a rain check on that. I would say that means I have to get back to you on that issue. How do I use that phrase? ...
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6answers
1k views

How does the grammar work in “here be dragons”?

Why is the phrase here be dragons not here are dragons? Is this a special grammatical form? If so, what is it? I found a related ELU question on the topic.