I was playing around with Google's Ngram viewer and noticed this interesting graph. Any idea what drove the two peaks around 1885 and 1919?
What's the origin of the now-archaic phrase "sift this matter to the bottom," meaning to make it a priority? [more inside]
Anti-feminists seem to often use the word "female" in the noun form, in places where people would ordinarily just use "women." (I don't want to spend a lot of time hunting up evidence of this, but here are some examples. There's also this and this.) I'm curious to know how/why this became a thing -- for example, I've wondered if it has something to do with military or police usage, because those are the only places I've previously noticed women being referred to as females. Does anybody know?
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."
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]
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]
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?
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!
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?
What is the etymology of British nicknames ending in -zza/-zzer? [more inside]
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?
What words have you made up that you use regularly? [more inside]
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]
Why is fair considered to be lesser than good, very good or excellent? [more inside]
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]
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]
Where's Cissylvania? [more inside]
Does a comprehensive etymological dictionary exist that crosses languages? [more inside]
What is the origin of the phrase "getting the hang" of something? What did it mean, originally, to "get the hang" of something?
Where does Doo-Wop come from? [more inside]
Are there any layman-accessible, English-language books or (less preferably) websites on Japanese etymology or the development of Japanese? [more inside]
What is the origin of the cross-linguistic "kutt"-like root for dog? [more inside]
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]
How did the word "Brave" originate to identify Native Americans?
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]
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.
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?
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]
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!
Muslim or Moslem? [more inside]
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"?
What is the etymology behind the word "Cohee"? [more inside]
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.
Pronunciation/Definition Filter: The "word" merc. (+) [more inside]
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?
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]
Can genius be used as adjective, as in this example from the BBC: "Send Dave your genius idea."? If so, why? [More Inside.] [more inside]
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?
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"?
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]
What is the origin of the
1. Do one thing
2. Do another thing
1. Do one thing
2. Do another thing
Where did the term "asshat" originate, and what's it's definition?
Why are gay women lesbians, while gay men are just gay? [more inside]
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?)
(I know it means quickly, but what's its origin?)