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]
posted by Arbac
on Sep 5, 2009 -
Does a comprehensive etymological dictionary exist that crosses languages? [more inside]
posted by Tchad
on Sep 3, 2009 -
Why is the wooden block at the end of a violin bow called a "frog"?
posted by mendel
on Jul 11, 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 -
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]
posted by =^^=
on Mar 11, 2009 -
Single word that means "to sing the praises of", poss. Greek or Roman in origin. Thinking paean, or ode but not quite. [more inside]
posted by jchinique
on Feb 23, 2009 -
There is a Greek word which describes a preference for voyeurism over participation in sexual activities. What is it? (It may involve small boys.)
posted by Tufa
on Feb 18, 2009 -
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]
posted by sleevener
on Jan 9, 2009 -
What is the origin of the phrase "getting the hang" of something? What did it mean, originally, to "get the hang" of something?
posted by RedEmma
on Oct 9, 2008 -
What is the origin of the phrase "by the balls" as in: "He's really got you by the balls."? [more inside]
posted by sciurus
on Oct 2, 2008 -
Are there any layman-accessible, English-language books or (less preferably) websites on Japanese etymology or the development of Japanese? [more inside]
posted by Citizen Premier
on Aug 30, 2008 -
What is the etymology of "brand new"? When did it first appear?
posted by Neale
on Jun 24, 2008 -
MajorDomesticDebateFilter : What is up? She says jig. I say gig. Google is undecided. [more inside]
posted by vizsla
on Apr 25, 2008 -
When did the concept of "transferable skills" become commonplace? [more inside]
posted by Tube
on Apr 1, 2008 -
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".
posted by tomble
on Jan 10, 2008 -
Why do mathematicians (and/or programmers) describe information passed to a function as an 'argument'? [more inside]
posted by b33j
on Dec 13, 2007 -
Obsessivewordenthusiastfilter: I'm writing a paper and I'm trying to portray a certain situation which I feel would be best conveyed with the use of an allusion, preferably to a Greek or Roman myth. More inside! [more inside]
posted by Lockeownzj00
on Dec 9, 2007 -
What is the origin of using asterisks to bracket a self-referential action statement? [more inside]
posted by Tube
on Dec 8, 2007 -
Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Ribbentrop, Göring -- what are these surname origins? [more inside]
posted by zek
on Nov 12, 2007 -
is an inability to get pleasure from pleasurable experiences, is there a word or concept that describes an inability (or a diminished capacity) to be saddened
by experiences usually considered "sad"? [more inside]
posted by cadastral
on Nov 1, 2007 -
What's the origin of the phrase "special (little) snowflake?" [more inside]
posted by dw
on Oct 5, 2007 -
Does the English language have a one-word verb meaning "to write a biography of someone"? And if so: does anyone use it? [more inside]
posted by mdonley
on Sep 5, 2007 -
How did the word "Brave" originate to identify Native Americans?
posted by obedo
on Aug 3, 2007 -
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 -
Does the phrase "Please, not in the face!" (in reference to a metaphorical imminent beating) have a definitive, particular origin from a famous film or some other piece of pop culture? Or has it just sort of established itself from actual beatings?
posted by so_necessary
on Jun 15, 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 -
What is the origin of the phrase, "last, best hope" as used in pretty much every self-consciously significant but ultimately cliched film, book or TV episode I've indulged myself with over the last ten years?
posted by barbelith
on Apr 8, 2007 -
In England it's common for football (soccer) fans to declare their team allegiance by saying "I'm X" rather than "I'm an X supporter". For example today I overheard this snippet of conversation:
Football supporter 1: "Are you Liverpool?"
Football supporter 2: "No, I'm Arsenal."
It's as if the team defines an entire person. Where and how did this turn of phrase evolve, and is it common with any other sports in other places?
posted by roofus
on Apr 1, 2007 -
I am looking for the etymology for the term "gentleman's 'c'" and my google-fu is just pulling up Bush-bashing. Any advice from the hive?
posted by B-squared
on Mar 21, 2007 -
"Adanac" is "Canada" spelled backwards, and it's an exceedingly common name for businesses, streets and so forth in Canada. Is this common in any other country? [more inside]
posted by solid-one-love
on Feb 17, 2007 -
When did people start saying "best ___ evar" or "worst ___ evar"? Was there a single notable case that sparked the trend, or did it start happening more slowly without a specific origin? Standard etymology searches have turned up nothing.
posted by scottreynen
on Jan 18, 2007 -
How did people describe "electric" experiences before electricity? I got to wondering when someone described the feeling of being pressed up against someone as "electric"...surely people had that experience (for example) before it meant "like invisible power" or "tingly all over"? [more inside]
posted by paul_smatatoes
on Dec 20, 2006 -
TissueCultureFilter: Does anyone know the etymology behind calling cell scrapers 'policemen'? [more inside]
posted by porpoise
on Nov 21, 2006 -