183 posts tagged with etymology.
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Help me find a word for this obscure kind of situation!

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 - 19 answers

Self-referential Asterisks

What is the origin of using asterisks to bracket a self-referential action statement? [more inside]
posted by Tube on Dec 8, 2007 - 27 answers

What is the origin of "Bird Course?"

Etymologyfilter: what is the origin of the term"Bird Course"?
posted by Fuzzy Monster on Dec 7, 2007 - 8 answers

Origins of the names in Hitler's cabinet

Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Ribbentrop, Göring -- what are these surname origins? [more inside]
posted by zek on Nov 12, 2007 - 9 answers

Antonym for 'anhedonia'

If "anhedonia" 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 - 25 answers

You entitled kids get off my lawn!

What's the origin of the phrase "special (little) snowflake?" [more inside]
posted by dw on Oct 5, 2007 - 19 answers

Does "biographize" exist? No, really.

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 - 27 answers


How did the word "Brave" originate to identify Native Americans?
posted by obedo on Aug 3, 2007 - 6 answers

Specialized Phrases in General Usage

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 - 18 answers

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: 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

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