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')
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]
When did the word "diss" pass into popular/mainstream usage (either in the US or Australia)? [more inside]
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]
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]
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!
Looking for a vernacular American English word! Chaunse, shawnse, shaunse, etc... [more inside]
What is the meaning and origin of "I didn't know from ___"? [more inside]
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]
What is the etymology of the phrase "Paris is Burning?" [more inside]
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]
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]
[CulinaryEtymologyFilter] Can anyone explain the origins of the word ratatouille? I heard an explanation once, but suspect it's false... [more inside]
[batshitinsane Filter] (etymology) What is the origin of BatShitInsane? [more inside]
Pronouncing the word "Magdalene." [more inside]
Please explain the meme "THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS!" [more inside]
My friend recently mentioned that he'd like to have a good (American English) etymology book. Can anyone suggest a good one? It can be simple and short or long and detailed, but I'd prefer to err on the side of long and detailed.
Where does the phrase "It was not there to protect me from you. It was there to protect you from me" come from? [more inside]
Where's Cissylvania? [more inside]
How can I add an etymology reference/resource to Apple's Dictionary.app? [more inside]
Help me track down the meaning of a surname. The name is "Naftzger." It seems to be a Germanic (if not German) word for an occupation (e.g. "Metzger" means "butcher"). But what occupation? What does the "Naf" mean? Bonus points for information on region of origin.
I looked up the etymology of parole in An etymological dictionary of the Romance languages, and was intrigued by this: "It took the place of the L. verbum which, from religious scruples, was sparingly used" (emphasis mine). What "religious scruples" are they alluding to? No elaboration is given in that entry. I realize that verbum means "word", and shares a stem with lots of other meanings, but I would love to know if anyone knows more.
Why are the teen numbers (13-19) named differently than the rest of the numbers, and what's up with eleven and twelve? [more inside]
Does a comprehensive etymological dictionary exist that crosses languages? [more inside]
Why is the wooden block at the end of a violin bow called a "frog"?
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?
What is the origin of the phrase "Mama needs a new pair of shoes"? I've also seen "Mama needs new shoes". Where did it come from and why is it sometimes used specifically in relation to gambling? [more inside]
Single word that means "to sing the praises of", poss. Greek or Roman in origin. Thinking paean, or ode but not quite. [more inside]
There is a Greek word which describes a preference for voyeurism over participation in sexual activities. What is it? (It may involve small boys.)
What is the etymology, meaning, or connotation of the first/personal name Maher in Arabic culture? [more inside]
How does one arrive at a list of all the English words that can be traced back to a given root word? The word "chameleon" will be discussed. [more inside]
Cusco or Cuzco? Is this a matter of potato potahto? Or post-colonial post-colohnial? [more inside]
What is the origin of the phrase "getting the hang" of something? What did it mean, originally, to "get the hang" of something?
What is the origin of the phrase "by the balls" as in: "He's really got you by the balls."? [more inside]
Where does Doo-Wop come from? [more inside]
trivial question on the etymology of "Spam": Did it originate at a Pern hatching? [more inside]
Where does the phrase "losing your virginity" come from? [more inside]
Are there any layman-accessible, English-language books or (less preferably) websites on Japanese etymology or the development of Japanese? [more inside]
Where did the saying "It's 5 'o Clock Somewhere" originate? [more inside]
What does hemophiliac mean? [more inside]
What is the origin of the cross-linguistic "kutt"-like root for dog? [more inside]
What is the etymology of "brand new"? When did it first appear?
The etymology of Greek "glory" names... [more inside]
MajorDomesticDebateFilter : What is up? She says jig. I say gig. Google is undecided. [more inside]
What is the etymology of the word "cockpunch"? [more inside]
When did the concept of "transferable skills" become commonplace? [more inside]
What does Billy Joel mean when he sings, “the most she will do is throw shadows at you”? [more inside]
Etymology of "ginger" to mean redhead? [more inside]
Another etymology question : what's the origin of the term `book' meaning `to go'. For example `Let's book on outta here", or "I'm gonna book down to the 7-11". [more inside]
Why do mathematicians (and/or programmers) describe information passed to a function as an 'argument'? [more inside]