Seeking English words with meanings hidden in plain sight
May 4, 2010 9:22 AM Subscribe
Help me find English words that have meanings hidden in plain sight. For example, it only recently occurred to me that a "quart" is a quarter of a gallon.
posted by alms to Writing & Language (142 answers total) 122 users marked this as a favorite
Similarly, it took me 46 years to figure out that the "horizon" is horizontal.
When I talk to people about these two words (quart and horizon), half of them respond by saying "Duh. What rock have you been living under?" The other half, though, says something like, "Oh my goodness! Now I'll be able to remember how many quarts are in a gallon! Thank you!"
I'll note that some of the smartest most well-spoken people I know fall into the second category.
I realize that most words in the English language share etymological roots with other words. What I'm looking for are common words whose etymology is enlightening and dead obvious once you think about it, but which intelligent educated people are often completely unaware of.