196 posts tagged with etymology.
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Gold teeth and a curse for this town were all in my mouth

What words have you made up that you use regularly? [more inside]
posted by holdkris99 on Jan 13, 2012 - 209 answers

How would Mark Twain have written "WTF!"

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 - 32 answers

Where's were now?

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 - 8 answers

So "Rock"=Wild & "Party"=Crazy, or...

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 - 16 answers

A census giving consensus for consent?

Etymology Question: Relationships of modern word consensus to Latin consensus from sentio from (pre-Latin?) sent? Specifically, is censor or census in there somewhere as a predecessor or descendant? [more inside]
posted by Phyltre on Aug 13, 2011 - 2 answers

The capital I.

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 - 12 answers

Saying sugar and yelling your full name: southern or not?

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 - 81 answers

All's sub-par in love and war.

Why is fair considered to be lesser than good, very good or excellent? [more inside]
posted by eschatfische on May 25, 2011 - 11 answers

One what?

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 - 12 answers

So, so?

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 - 22 answers

Etymology of "ebrius"?

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 - 6 answers

Is the "nos" in "nostalgia" of the same origin as the "nos" in "nosotros"?

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 - 7 answers

Etymology of "once and for all"?

What's the etymology of the phrase "once and for all"? What's the earliest known attestation?
posted by topynate on Feb 11, 2011 - 5 answers

Etymology/definition of "shit-eating grin?"

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 - 18 answers

Any tips for finding out the meanings of out-of-the-ordinary names?

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 - 19 answers

Diss question

When did the word "diss" pass into popular/mainstream usage (either in the US or Australia)? [more inside]
posted by crossoverman on Jan 7, 2011 - 18 answers

Have your heard mulled wine referred to by the name "whiskey?"

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 - 19 answers

Help get this question out of my head!

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 - 5 answers

Word misplaced or imagined?

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 - 11 answers

Take me to the river, Chaunse me in the water...

Looking for a vernacular American English word! Chaunse, shawnse, shaunse, etc... [more inside]
posted by darkstar on Jul 3, 2010 - 15 answers

Whence "didn't know from" ?

What is the meaning and origin of "I didn't know from ___"? [more inside]
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl on Jun 6, 2010 - 6 answers

Seeking English words with meanings hidden in plain sight

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 - 142 answers

What is the etymology of the phrase "Paris is Burning?"

What is the etymology of the phrase "Paris is Burning?" [more inside]
posted by kittensofthenight on Apr 25, 2010 - 9 answers

Funnest etymologies?

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 - 84 answers

Word nerds seeks "meta-core"-ellary

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 - 22 answers

Some stories are too good to be false...

[CulinaryEtymologyFilter] Can anyone explain the origins of the word ratatouille? I heard an explanation once, but suspect it's false... [more inside]
posted by molybdenum on Mar 3, 2010 - 11 answers

Did you guys see the size of that chicken?

[batshitinsane Filter] (etymology) What is the origin of BatShitInsane? [more inside]
posted by at the crossroads on Feb 13, 2010 - 14 answers

A lady from Magdala

Pronouncing the word "Magdalene." [more inside]
posted by phaedon on Feb 3, 2010 - 15 answers


Please explain the meme "THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS!" [more inside]
posted by the NATURAL on Jan 27, 2010 - 24 answers

Good etymology book?

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.
posted by helixportland on Dec 23, 2009 - 14 answers

"It was not there to protect me from you. It was there to protect you from me"

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]
posted by seanyboy on Oct 30, 2009 - 9 answers

Where's Cissylvania?

Where's Cissylvania? [more inside]
posted by madcaptenor on Oct 26, 2009 - 15 answers

Etymology & Dictionary.app?

How can I add an etymology reference/resource to Apple's Dictionary.app? [more inside]
posted by jofuu on Oct 8, 2009 - 3 answers

What does the surname "Naftzger" mean?

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.
posted by reverend cuttle on Oct 1, 2009 - 3 answers

Verbum -> Parole due to religious scruples?

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.
posted by everichon on Sep 8, 2009 - 11 answers

Mommy I'm twelveteen now!

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 - 33 answers

Detailed etymological dictionary?

Does a comprehensive etymological dictionary exist that crosses languages? [more inside]
posted by Tchad on Sep 3, 2009 - 11 answers

There's a frog on my bow.

Why is the wooden block at the end of a violin bow called a "frog"?
posted by mendel on Jul 11, 2009 - 5 answers

Do you know the etymology of Ponos and Poena

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 - 5 answers

What is the origin of the phrase "Mama needs a new pair of shoes"?

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 - 13 answers

Thesaurus word like "homage to"

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 - 25 answers

A word for Greek voyeurism?

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 - 3 answers

It means curious.

What is the etymology, meaning, or connotation of the first/personal name Maher in Arabic culture? [more inside]
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... on Feb 8, 2009 - 11 answers

Word histories and dirt lions

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 - 9 answers

Cusco, Cuzco, Ccozcco, Qusqu

Cusco or Cuzco? Is this a matter of potato potahto? Or post-colonial post-colohnial? [more inside]
posted by cachondeo45 on Dec 22, 2008 - 10 answers

What the heck is hanging?

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 - 17 answers

What is the origin of the phrase "by the balls"?

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 - 14 answers

Sha-boom Sha-boom, sha na na na na na na na na na na (repeat)

Where does Doo-Wop come from? [more inside]
posted by phylum sinter on Oct 1, 2008 - 8 answers

trivial question on the etymology of "Spam": Did it originate at a Pern hatching?

trivial question on the etymology of "Spam": Did it originate at a Pern hatching? [more inside]
posted by Challahtronix on Sep 8, 2008 - 8 answers

Where does the phrase "losing your virginity" come from?

Where does the phrase "losing your virginity" come from? [more inside]
posted by rzperllian on Sep 2, 2008 - 13 answers

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