In the early 1990s, the boys in my middle school used to threaten to "steal" each other, meaning hit/punch/sock/pop/smack. It was most commonly heard as, "I'mma steal you in your eye!" or "I'm gonna steal him upside the head!" I found it strange even then, and I haven't heard or seen reference to it since. Have you heard "steal" used like this before? Where could it have come from? Relevant details: This was in Nash County, North Carolina. I recall hearing it exclusively from white boys. The couple times I asked someone who was self-aware enough to discuss it, they were adamant that it was "steal" and not "steel."
posted by rhiannonstone
on Feb 6, 2014 -
What is the origin of "making it sing," as in to cause something to be at its best, be it an instrument, weapon, machine, or anything else? [more inside]
posted by BlackLeotardFront
on Jan 27, 2014 -
What are some examples of really easy/obvious etymological descents that most people aren't really aware of? I'm trying to prove to somebody that there are a lot of these in the english language but I've forgotten most of the interesting ones I used to know. [more inside]
posted by tehloki
on Nov 22, 2013 -
What is the origin of ending a sentence with a trailing "so..." ? Who is on record first using it? How did it spread?
I am talking about the annoying unfinished sentence word: "We would have gone cycling, but I couldn't find my bike, so..."
I am not talking about the legitimate adverb: "I love biking so!"
posted by michaelh
on Aug 29, 2013 -
In popular culture, there's a "meme" of sorts involving a person helping another push someone over. I've seen it in goofy images and comics: someone kneels down on all fours behind the victim's legs (often smiling) while a person in front pushes the victim. Is there a term for this?
posted by swizzle_stik
on Aug 27, 2013 -
Is there a term for a seer/diviner/oracle that is only able to see into the past? I'm willing to grab one from a non-English language if there is a word that means specifically "a seer who can only see the past", but English is prefered. Antiquated terms are OK. Bonus points for interesting etymological details (or links to interesting etymological details). [more inside]
posted by NoraReed
on Jul 16, 2013 -
I had never heard this phrase before and came across it in an article about autism. Curious about it, I searched online, but was unable to find much. [more inside]
posted by abirdinthehand
on Jul 15, 2013 -
I flashed the biker wave on my ride home tonight, and as I was thinking some warm fuzzy thoughts about the "motorcycling fraternity", I noticed that the other rider was a woman. Is there a word which represents this concept in a gender-inclusive way? If "fraternity" has to do with brothers and "sorority" has to do with sisters, what word has to do with "siblings"? [more inside]
posted by Mars Saxman
on Jul 11, 2013 -
At what point did the phrase "I'm/you're/we're hosed"
come into play in the US vernacular? Earliest record? From pop culture somewhere? Are there regions of the US that did not ever use this turn of phrase?
posted by juniperesque
on May 17, 2013 -
I am looking for a text file of a list of words (roughly the 5000-10000 most common English words) and their root word and root word language. My Google Fu only turns up single words or pages that I can type in a word to get to another page to get the etymology.
Wikipedia has some stuff, but it is sorted by language root, which is not what I am looking for.
I would like to have a long list of words in a text file so that I can manipulate it programatically. Comma separated or whatever, any format would be great.
Here is one use case:
Yoke - [list of words that have yoke in the etymological history] (Many, many many English words come from the root work for Yoke.)
All answers appreciated!
posted by Monkey0nCrack
on May 16, 2013 -
What's a good resource for looking up the Latin roots of Spanish words? (There are a number of fantastic resources for finding the Latin roots of English words, but I'm having a harder time with Spanish words.) [more inside]
posted by jtothes
on Apr 30, 2013 -
I have a theory about the origin of the expression “I know, right?” that’s been fairly popular among young and youngish Americans (and others, for all I know) for the past several years. I’m testing that theory with this question.
I understand that Mexicans (and maybe other Latin Americans) have an equivalent expression, “Sí, ¿verdad?” - even with the same intonation as “I know, right?”. Well, one source has told me this, anyway. Can other people verify this? And if so, how common is/was the Spanish version of the expression, and roughly when (and where) did people start saying it?
posted by Mechitar
on Apr 18, 2013 -
"Emydidae" is the name of a family of turtles. What I want to know is what does the name *mean*. I have exhausted my google-fu and the best I've been able to find is this wiktionary
link that gives a meaning for "-idae" as "appearance". Any reptile/turtle fans care to enlighten me?
posted by moss free
on Mar 26, 2013 -
What is this non-English, possibly German word? Sounds like veetsul zooten, means emotional from an impending change. [more inside]
posted by BusyBusyBusy
on Jan 3, 2013 -
Stamp collecting is philately. Coin collecting falls under numismatics (perhaps as a subdivision). Rock collecting is not really geology in the same way as the above terms are used. Is there a similar term for rock collecting?
posted by Jahaza
on Nov 3, 2012 -
I'm looking for examples of terms that remain in common use, even though the technology that they originally described is obsolete or has changed. Also: does this phenomenon have a name? [more inside]
posted by condour75
on Jul 24, 2012 -
Is there a resource where I can learn about the Greek and Latin words that commonly underlie words and names in English? I don't want to learn Greek or Latin, I'm talking about only
the words which are commonly useful as 'clues'. [more inside]
posted by Kirn
on Mar 13, 2012 -
As I understand it, 'prepend' is common computer jargon to mean the opposite of append.
In a little debate with some of my computer science colleagues, they claim that it is an actual English word with that meaning, while I contend that it's computer jargon that was invented out of convenience and that 'prepend' is actually an archaic word that means something similar to pondering. [more inside]
posted by bushmango
on Jan 25, 2012 -
Is there a word that would express your combined surprise/confusion/confoundment upon witnessing an event or situation? How would best express, in a single word, your brain's "WTF-moment"? [more inside]
posted by Wild_Eep
on Sep 19, 2011 -
Are there any other modern examples of "were" from the old english meaning "man" apart from "virility" and "werewolf"? [more inside]
posted by fantasticninety
on Aug 25, 2011 -
Has an evaluation been made of the dichotomy between what is implied by the term "wild" in the line "You drive us wild" and what is implied by the term "crazy" in the immediately following line "We'll drive you crazy" in KISS's "Rock And Roll All Night?"
posted by herbplarfegan
on Aug 23, 2011 -
Etymology Question: Relationships of modern word consensus
to Latin consensus
from (pre-Latin?) sent
? Specifically, is censor
in there somewhere as a predecessor or descendant? [more inside]
posted by Phyltre
on Aug 13, 2011 -
Calling etymologists, linguists, lexicographers, and research librarians! Was there a time when 'television,' 'radio,' or 'newspaper' were always capitalized? [more inside]
posted by thebestsophist
on Jun 20, 2011 -
Two questions about vocabulary in the American South and elsewhere: did your parents call you sugar and did they, when you were in trouble, use both your first and middle names to summon you for the reckoning? [more inside]
posted by mygothlaundry
on Jun 2, 2011 -
When rappers say "one time for the .../two times for the ...", what are they referring to? If I'm watching a concert, what am I supposed to do? [more inside]
posted by the NATURAL
on Apr 20, 2011 -
So, is the use of 'so' as an interjection to begin a sentence (see also: 'well', 'listen', 'hear ye!') a recent coinage? If so, what are its origins? [more inside]
posted by unSane
on Mar 31, 2011 -
Does anyone know the origin of the latin word "ebrius" which roughly translates into "inebriated" in English? [more inside]
posted by fantasticninety
on Mar 28, 2011 -
Spanish etymology question: Is the "nos" in "nostalgia" of the same origin as the "nos" in "nosotros"? [more inside]
posted by 6and12
on Feb 16, 2011 -
What's the etymology of the phrase "once and for all"? What's the earliest known attestation?
posted by topynate
on Feb 11, 2011 -
What does the phrase "shit-eating grin" mean? And what is its etymology?
(Please no random guesses on the latter question, not looking for 'folk etymology')
posted by jcruelty
on Feb 8, 2011 -
Etymological/genealogical question--tips or tricks for finding the origin of a very elusive family name when Googlefu, Ancestryfu and all other manner of -fus fail? [more inside]
posted by nonmerci
on Feb 7, 2011 -
I was looking at an Icelandic book of recipes from 1858 that is largely based on Danish cookbooks and in it there's a recipe for "whiskey" which is made from tea, sugar, lemonjuice and white wine. This isn't terribly similar to glühwein or glögg, but not entirely dissimilar. My question is, does anyone know why this is referred to as "whiskey" in the recipe book? Has anyone heard any kind of European mulled wine referred to by that name? Or know another name for mixed wine and tea drinks? I've put the recipe inside. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus
on Dec 1, 2010 -
How did the word "earworm" come to mean something you can't get out of your head (like a song, etc)? Looking for the German etymology, if there is one. [more inside]
posted by bitter-girl.com
on Oct 1, 2010 -
Please help me find a specific word, perhaps two, meaning 1) fear of ambiguity and 2) fear of the imagination. Am I misremembering the word(s) for these? Is it obviously right under my nose in English, or does it not exist at all? I thought it might be Greek or have a Greek root, though I could certainly be wrong. Thanks!
posted by methinks
on Sep 3, 2010 -
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. [more inside]
posted by alms
on May 4, 2010 -
The etymology of the word "glamour" comes from the word "grammar". Over time, the "r" eroded to an "l" and became associated with someone who was high–falutin. This is possibly my favourite etymological story, and I like sharing it with my students. I got it from a book called "Thereby Hangs a Tale". Metafilter, what are your favourite etymological stories? [more inside]
posted by fantasticninety
on Apr 3, 2010 -
I'm a word nerd who likes fun words and this word I came across is fun to say and, at least to me, kind of new: mumblecore
That got me thinking -- what makes a "-core?"
I am interested in how generes of certain media are dubbed “-core.” Is there anything that makes a genre a “-core” genre and not it’s own suffix-free genre name? Why is “screamo” not “screamcore,” when we have “nerdcore,” “noisecore,” and “hardcore?” (more...) [more inside]
posted by cross_impact
on Apr 1, 2010 -