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How can I start an etymological education?

So, I want to learn more about etymology. What's a good place to get started? [more inside]
posted by kmtiszen on Jul 30, 2007 - 9 answers

German etymology of "kitsch"

Please help me find the etymology for the German word "kitsch". [more inside]
posted by Durhey on Jul 12, 2007 - 10 answers

Does the phrase "please, not in the face!" come from anywhere in particular?

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 - 16 answers

What's a word meaning "having mixed Greek and Latin roots"?

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 - 10 answers

What's the origin of the phrase "last, best hope for.."?

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 - 18 answers

I'm Arsenal

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 - 16 answers

Origins of the gentleman's c?

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 - 8 answers

Wasn't "pointer finger" good enough?

Why is it called the index finger? [more inside]
posted by ramenopres on Feb 23, 2007 - 8 answers

Remember Provo spelled backwards is Ovorp

"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 - 43 answers

First "evar" evar?

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 - 25 answers

How did people describe "electric" experiences before electricity?

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 - 25 answers

What is the etymology of the phrase "bat shit insane"?

What is the origin, or etymology of the phrase: "bat shit insane"? [more inside]
posted by jkaczor on Nov 21, 2006 - 3 answers

Time is tissue!

TissueCultureFilter: Does anyone know the etymology behind calling cell scrapers 'policemen'? [more inside]
posted by porpoise on Nov 21, 2006 - 5 answers

Site for phrase origins

How can I find out who coined the term 'perverse incentive'? [more inside]
posted by dragonsi55 on Nov 18, 2006 - 4 answers

"Get out the vote" Origin?

Where does the phrase "Get out the vote" come from? [more inside]
posted by GregX3 on Nov 6, 2006 - 8 answers

The Question Hit the Fan

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? Thanks!
posted by andoatnp on Sep 26, 2006 - 8 answers

Help me find somewhere to publish

Linguistic/Etymology academics: I wrote a 2,000 word paper / article which friends say is of publishable quality and interesting, but not sure what venue to try. [more inside]
posted by lpctstr; on Sep 21, 2006 - 10 answers

Whither the word for rat-related?

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 - 14 answers

Grammar Wok Needed!

Weird grammar question that's been bugging me for a while with regards to reversing questioning clauses at the end of declarative sentences. [more inside]
posted by WCityMike on Sep 8, 2006 - 22 answers

Oh he's got blue eyes, oh he's got green eyes, oh he's got gray eyes...

Have the meanings of words referring to colours changed? [more inside]
posted by joannemerriam on Sep 3, 2006 - 32 answers

"Pulling the Plug?"

When was the phrase "pull the plug" first used in the sense of allowing someone to die? (such as stopping artificial respiration, etc...)
posted by scottr on Aug 19, 2006 - 4 answers

The hunter should probably give credit where credit is due

What is the origin of the term MILF? [more inside]
posted by antifuse on Aug 18, 2006 - 25 answers

What's the etymology of "Tall Drink of Water"?

What's the origin/etymology of the phrase "Tall Drink of Water", usually in reference to an attractive southern woman?
posted by SpecialK on Aug 14, 2006 - 22 answers

The Magic of the Big Sky

Origins of the phrase "Big Sky"? Was it first used to describe Montana? Might it have Native American origins?
posted by nixerman on Jul 27, 2006 - 4 answers

Whats the etymology of "common or garden"

Does anyone have any idea what the phrase "common or garden" actually means? I mean I know it means "ordinary" but what is the garden bit about? or is it common as in Greenham Common, perhaps?
posted by criticalbill on May 24, 2006 - 12 answers

All your base are off of us

Did "based on" beget "based off of"? [more inside]
posted by Mr Stickfigure on May 16, 2006 - 28 answers

Whence "freak flag?"

What's the original source of the phrase, "fly your freak flag high?"
posted by Chrysostom on May 3, 2006 - 11 answers

Where does "for those of you following along at home" come from?

What's the origin of the phrase "For those of you [playing/following/scoring] along at home?" [more inside]
posted by AgentRocket on Apr 28, 2006 - 23 answers

What is the etymology of the phrase "to shoot the shit?"

What is the origin of the phrase "to shoot the shit?"
posted by jrb223 on Apr 28, 2006 - 7 answers

Venus words

In English, we have words like mercurial, martial, jovial, and saturnine... [more inside]
posted by wanderingmind on Apr 26, 2006 - 22 answers

Why is it called /etc?

On Unix systems, what is the origin of the directory name "/etc"? That is, why is it called that versus "config", "conf", or anything else that might make sense? Thanks!
posted by arrhn on Apr 10, 2006 - 43 answers

Potato, potahto, Muslim, Moslem

Muslim or Moslem? [more inside]
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood on Apr 8, 2006 - 21 answers

Getting it on (like Donkey Kong?)

What is the origin of the phrase "It's on like Donkey Kong"? [more inside]
posted by roofus on Mar 30, 2006 - 5 answers

"Dying is easy, Comedy is hard" - Source?

What is the origin of the phrase/quote/saying "Dying is easy, comedy is hard?"
posted by YoungAmerican on Mar 7, 2006 - 8 answers

Couple : Several : A Few

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 - 41 answers

Why is he called a "body man"?

The personal aide to a President, other politician, and certain other muckety-mucks is sometimes known as a "body man". (This usage was popularized, but not invented, by Charlie's role in The West Wing.) Why "body man"? Does anybody know the origin/etymology of the term?
posted by willbaude on Dec 24, 2005 - 13 answers

What is the etymology of the phrase flaming liberal?

What is the etymology of the phrase flaming liberal? [more inside]
posted by sequential on Dec 5, 2005 - 13 answers

Why is it beef, not cow?

Why do we use euphemistic names for some kinds of meat? [more inside]
posted by 5MeoCMP on Dec 4, 2005 - 52 answers

Where'd Borges Get Dem Werds?

On behalf of a friend, though it actually sounds like an interesting question and I think I'd like to know too: Could you put up something asking about whether there's a real-world source/derivation for the words "hron" and "hronir" used in Borges' "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius"?
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me on Nov 5, 2005 - 3 answers

Is there a word like widow or widower to describe a surviving twin?

Is there a word like widow or widower to describe a surviving twin? [more inside]
posted by Frank Grimes on Oct 22, 2005 - 12 answers

Worst. Question. Ever.

Can anyone point me to a brief online etymology about this over-punctuated style of expression yourself: Worst. Whatever. Ever. Is it a slashdot thing? Mefi thing? Geek thing? Are there any articles about this online?
posted by arielmeadow on Sep 27, 2005 - 14 answers

Why is something "under" construction?

Why is something "under" construction? [more inside]
posted by birdsquared on Sep 14, 2005 - 17 answers

Where does "Cohee" come from?

What is the etymology behind the word "Cohee"? [more inside]
posted by Third on Sep 13, 2005 - 2 answers

Where did the Pac-Man term "Cruise Elroy" come from?

Where did the Pac-Man term "Cruise Elroy" come from? [more inside]
posted by danb on Jul 15, 2005 - 5 answers

When calling someone a "cocks**ker" are you calling them a "girl" or are you calling them a "homo"?

BadWordFilter - Does the word "buttf**ker" refer to a man who sodomizes a woman, and in turn is just a "dirty sex act" word, or does it refer to a homosexual who sodomizes a man and in turn is a homophobic word? Likewise for "cocks**ker"? When calling someone a "cocks**ker" are you calling them a "girl" or are you calling them a "homo"? Am I thinking too much about it, or should I avoid using these words around women / homosexuals so not to appear sexist / homophobic?
posted by pwb503 on Jul 14, 2005 - 41 answers

What... up?

The 70's seemed to be gripped by "Up the [blank]" mania. Up The Organization (1970). Up the Chastity Belt (1971). Up the Sandbox (1972). Up the Workers (1973). Up the Academy (1980). Then there was "Up With People," but that doesn't really seem related in tone. Where did the "Up the..." form come from, and why the prevalence in 70's culture?
posted by eschatfische on Jun 5, 2005 - 25 answers

The Origin of "meh"?

Can anyone provide me with the origin of the word "meh"? I mean, yeah, definition-wise, it almost undoubtedly comes from "ehh." [more inside]
posted by WCityMike on May 17, 2005 - 29 answers

Does a rule exist to determine how a placename is changed when speaking of something native to that place?

How is the term is determined for a native, thing or resident of a place? For example, an American from America or Italian from Italy seems simple enough, but Glaswegian from Glasgow? Shouldn't it be Moswegian and not Muscovite? [more inside]
posted by geckoinpdx on Apr 13, 2005 - 37 answers

And How!!!

What is the Etymological origin of the phrase "And How!" used as an exclamation. [more inside]
posted by Megafly on Mar 23, 2005 - 7 answers

Etymology of the phrase "hunt you down like a dog"

What's the origin of the phrase "hunt you down like a dog?" I can seem to find the origins of other phrases involving dogs pretty easily but not this one.
posted by DyRE on Feb 3, 2005 - 16 answers

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