In the early 1990s, the boys in my middle school used to threaten to "steal" each other, meaning hit/punch/sock/pop/smack. It was most commonly heard as, "I'mma steal you in your eye!" or "I'm gonna steal him upside the head!" I found it strange even then, and I haven't heard or seen reference to it since. Have you heard "steal" used like this before? Where could it have come from? Relevant details: This was in Nash County, North Carolina. I recall hearing it exclusively from white boys. The couple times I asked someone who was self-aware enough to discuss it, they were adamant that it was "steal" and not "steel."
posted by rhiannonstone
on Feb 6, 2014 -
What are some examples of really easy/obvious etymological descents that most people aren't really aware of? I'm trying to prove to somebody that there are a lot of these in the english language but I've forgotten most of the interesting ones I used to know. [more inside]
posted by tehloki
on Nov 22, 2013 -
Is there a term for a seer/diviner/oracle that is only able to see into the past? I'm willing to grab one from a non-English language if there is a word that means specifically "a seer who can only see the past", but English is prefered. Antiquated terms are OK. Bonus points for interesting etymological details (or links to interesting etymological details). [more inside]
posted by NoraReed
on Jul 16, 2013 -
At what point did the phrase "I'm/you're/we're hosed"
come into play in the US vernacular? Earliest record? From pop culture somewhere? Are there regions of the US that did not ever use this turn of phrase?
posted by juniperesque
on May 17, 2013 -
I am looking for a text file of a list of words (roughly the 5000-10000 most common English words) and their root word and root word language. My Google Fu only turns up single words or pages that I can type in a word to get to another page to get the etymology.
Wikipedia has some stuff, but it is sorted by language root, which is not what I am looking for.
I would like to have a long list of words in a text file so that I can manipulate it programatically. Comma separated or whatever, any format would be great.
Here is one use case:
Yoke - [list of words that have yoke in the etymological history] (Many, many many English words come from the root work for Yoke.)
All answers appreciated!
posted by Monkey0nCrack
on May 16, 2013 -
I have a theory about the origin of the expression “I know, right?” that’s been fairly popular among young and youngish Americans (and others, for all I know) for the past several years. I’m testing that theory with this question.
I understand that Mexicans (and maybe other Latin Americans) have an equivalent expression, “Sí, ¿verdad?” - even with the same intonation as “I know, right?”. Well, one source has told me this, anyway. Can other people verify this? And if so, how common is/was the Spanish version of the expression, and roughly when (and where) did people start saying it?
posted by Mechitar
on Apr 18, 2013 -
Stamp collecting is philately. Coin collecting falls under numismatics (perhaps as a subdivision). Rock collecting is not really geology in the same way as the above terms are used. Is there a similar term for rock collecting?
posted by Jahaza
on Nov 3, 2012 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
Does a comprehensive etymological dictionary exist that crosses languages? [more inside]
posted by Tchad
on Sep 3, 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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
Etymology question: astronaut vs. cosmonaut. Why are there two separate terms for the same thing? Is the distinction just a Cold War relic? It always seemed a little redundant to me. What about "taikonaut"?
posted by mkn
on Feb 22, 2004 -
Excuse me, but can anyone tell me: What exactly is the origin of the phrase Go piss up a rope
? I know it's present in the American South and Midwest, but did it originate elsewhere? Does the phrase occur in other countries? And how exactly does
one piss up a rope
? Does it mean Go climb a rope
(similar to Piss off!
), or literally Go urinate up a length of braided twine
? And, while we're at it, what the hell does the H
stand for in Jesus H Christ
? I've always wondered. [...a little more inside] [more inside]
posted by Shane
on Jan 19, 2004 -
What is the origin of the
1. Do one thing
2. Do another thing
posted by jpoulos
on Jan 13, 2004 -
Where did the term "asshat" originate, and what's it's definition?
posted by SpecialK
on Jan 8, 2004 -
Where does the word "stat" come from, as in "Give me 20ccs of Ringer's Lactate, stat!"?
(I know it means quickly, but what's its origin?)
posted by jpburns
on Dec 13, 2003 -