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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
What's the original source of the phrase, "fly your freak flag high?"
posted by Chrysostom
on May 3, 2006 -
What is the origin of the phrase "to shoot the shit?"
posted by jrb223
on Apr 28, 2006 -
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 -
What is the origin of the phrase/quote/saying "Dying is easy, comedy is hard?"
posted by YoungAmerican
on Mar 7, 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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
What is the Etymological origin of the phrase "And How!" used as an exclamation. [more inside]
posted by Megafly
on Mar 23, 2005 -
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 -
At least since I was a kid, there's been the joke/expression "underwater basketweaving." Namely as a joke college major: "What's your major?" "Underwater basketweaving." What is the origin of this expression? Anyone know?
posted by zardoz
on Jan 28, 2005 -
Is there any etymological relationship between the non-nominative Latin forms of Jupiter [Iuppiter, Iovis
], e.g. iove
(which would be pronounced "yohweh"), and the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh?
posted by stopgap
on Jan 23, 2005 -
EtymologyFilter: Was the word "spirit" first used to describe alcohol, or the non-physical portion of the self, ghosts, etc.?
posted by b1tr0t
on Dec 21, 2004 -
LanguageFilter: Any Arabic speakers here? I'm trying to decipher an Arabic phrase: "Baashake ya halo." I might have spelled it wrong, but I know it's not a common Arabic phrase so much as it is slang. Any ideas?
posted by symphonik
on Dec 12, 2004 -
Etymology of the phrase "Dutch oven." (Stop giggling. The culinary sense, please.) I have a partial answer but am in need of authoratative confirmation. [more inside]
posted by stuart_s
on Dec 9, 2004 -
Ukraine vs. The Ukraine. Is the latter outdated now that Ukraine is an independent nation? Do Ukranians feel strongly about the difference? I hear people refer to it both ways.
posted by hal incandenza
on Nov 26, 2004 -
Crawly linguistics: What is the association between crabs (the crustaceans) and cancer? We all know the zodiac sign of the crab is called "Cancer", Cancer
is also the genus of some crabs, and I've just discovered that other crabs are of the genus Carcinus
, which sounds very close to "carcinogen". What's the reasoning and history behind this?
posted by Jimbob
on Oct 12, 2004 -
Can I please get a definitive ruling on White Castle "slider" vs. White Castle "slyder"? Google tells me it's "slider" but I don't think that's right.
posted by blueshammer
on Aug 8, 2004 -
Is there a single-word noun that means "things that relate to blogs/are in the manner of blogs?" If not, any ideas for a made-up one?
posted by Nikolai
on Jun 15, 2004 -
After reading up on this
MeFi FPP, I began to wonder about the word comptroller
. The dictionary
does provide its etymology (just another variant of "to count" being "to compt"), but what I want to know is why this particular office in American cities is called such. Is this office the same name as that in other countries? Perhaps in the UK? Why do we call them comptrollers and not just controller?
posted by linux
on May 19, 2004 -
I'm in the process of teaching 1984
by George Orwell and, as we near the end of Book Three and are shown the horrors of Room 101, the question always arises: why do we use the number 101 to designate an introduction to a subject? What is the origin?
posted by ronv
on May 18, 2004 -