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 -
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 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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
Does a comprehensive etymological dictionary exist that crosses languages? [more inside]
posted by Tchad
on Sep 3, 2009 -
My boss has asked me to sort out the etymology of the words "Ponos" (Greek for Labor ?) and "Poena" (Latin for Sorrow?). The question is which came first, and are they related as it seems? Also, would those rough definitions be close to accurate?
posted by willnot
on Apr 28, 2009 -
Is there a name for phrases (or sometimes words) that have lost their previous specific/narrow/jargon meanings and are now used generally in a wide variety of situations with little or no knowledge about their prior usage? Are there lists of them anywhere with the phrases and explanations? [more inside]
posted by andoatnp
on Jul 30, 2007 -
I need to find the word meaning "a word with mixed Latin and Greek roots." It's not just "hybrid word
," but a word that specifically indicated Greek and Latin origins. I've had several people remark that they know
it but can't think of it, and my search skills have failed thusfar.
posted by luftmensch
on May 6, 2007 -
Where did the phrase "the shit hit the fan" originate from? My googling has revealed one claim that it is from 1930's jazz lingo, although no explanantion is given as to what it meant at the time, and another site gives a story that describes the origin that doesn't seem believable. (the last paragraph here: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=shit
Does anyone know where the phrase came from?
posted by andoatnp
on Sep 26, 2006 -
OK, so I'm sitting here with one of my buddies, talking about his research, and we realized that we know the word for "of or relating to mice" (murine), and the word for "of and related to cow" (bovine), but have no clue what the word for "of or related to rat" is. And after what we thought of as a pretty comprehensive web search (including this very good Google Answer
), we're no closer to an answer. Anyone know what the word we're looking for is?
posted by delfuego
on Sep 16, 2006 -
What is the origin of the phrase "to shoot the shit?"
posted by jrb223
on Apr 28, 2006 -
Several, couple, a few: occasionally, these words are used to indicate specific quantities of items (3, 2, and 4-5, respectively). Tell me about the etymology of these uses, and help me come up with more words (in English or other languages) that have this interesting specific/nonspecific duality.
posted by breath
on Jan 1, 2006 -
Where does the word "stat" come from, as in "Give me 20ccs of Ringer's Lactate, stat!"?
(I know it means quickly, but what's its origin?)
posted by jpburns
on Dec 13, 2003 -