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Word and Phrase Origins

Includes questions related to the origins and etymology of English words and phrases.

17,327 Questions

What do you call a person who always takes the opposite view?

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A person who always takes the opposite view is often referred to as a "contrarian." This individual challenges conventional thinking and provokes deeper reflection. While their perspective can be valuable for broadening understanding, it's important to ensure that their opposition stems from genuine inquiry rather than a mere desire to contradict. True wisdom arises from the balance of diverse viewpoints, fostering growth and harmony.

Where did this quote originate You ain't gotta go home but you gotta get the hell up out of here?

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Actually this was popular in the 70s, Morris Day just said it in the movie. I think this goes back to juke joints. I also think Dolly Parton or Mae West said it in a scene before Morris Day. It was how DJs closed the clubs back in the day.

What is the meaning of Magnus?

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(The boy's name Magnus)

mag-nus\, also pronounced MAG-ness. It is of Latin origin, and the meaning of Magnus is "great". A royal name inNorway and Denmark; also a saint's name. The name was introduced fromScandinavia to Scotland.

Magnus has 3 variant forms: Magnes,Magnusson and Manus.

Origin of the word raccoon?

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The word "raccoon" comes from the Algonquian language, possibly from the Powhatan word "aroughcun" meaning "he scratches with his hands." This term was later adapted into English as "raccoon" to refer to the animal known for its hand-like paws.

Where did the word zany come from?

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The word "zany" originated from the Italian "zani," referring to a subordinate character in a comedy genre known as commedia dell'arte. These characters were known for their eccentric and comical behavior, hence the association with the word "zany" in English to describe someone or something that is quirky or amusingly unconventional.

Where does the word periscope originate?

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The word "periscope" originates from the Greek words "peri" meaning around and "skopein" meaning to look. Together, periscope translates to "to look around." It is commonly used to describe an optical instrument used to view objects from a concealed or protected position.

Origin of pirate phrase scurvy dog?

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The term "scurvy dog" was used to insult someone as being dirty, unkempt, or unworthy. Sailors, including pirates, were known to suffer from scurvy due to vitamin C deficiency on long voyages at sea, leading to the association with being a lowly or contemptible individual. It became a common insult in pirate lore and literature.

Is a whippersnapper a spider?

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No, a whippersnapper is not a spider. It is a slang term used to describe a young and inexperienced person who is seen as impertinent or presumptuous.

How long is the ogopogo?

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The length of the Ogopogo, a mythical lake monster said to reside in Okanagan Lake, British Columbia, is typically described as between 8 to 20 meters (26 to 66 feet) long, with varying reports and sightings providing different estimates. The creature is often compared to the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland.

What is the origin of the word pig?

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The word "pig" comes from the Old English word "picg," which is believed to have originated from the Old Norse word "piggr." These words all refer to the domesticated mammal known for its stout body and short legs.

Where does the word SPACE originate from?

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The word "space" originates from the Latin word "spatium," meaning "room" or "extent." The concept of space as a three-dimensional expanse in which objects exist has been part of human understanding for centuries.

What is the origin of In the doghouse?

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The phrase "in the doghouse" originated from the idea that a dog who misbehaves would be banished to a doghouse, which is typically located outside the main home. Therefore, if someone is "in the doghouse," it means they are in trouble or have fallen out of favor with someone.

What is the origin of the term falling asleep?

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The term "falling asleep" dates back to Old English, where the verb "fall" meant to fall into a state of sleep or unconsciousness. Over time, it became a common expression to describe the act of transitioning from wakefulness to sleep.

What is having two feet called?

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Bipedalism is the ability to walk or move with two feet.

Why is the plural form for moose moose?

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The plural form for moose is moose because it follows a rare pattern called "no change" where the word remains the same in both singular and plural form.

Where do batswana originate from?

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The Batswana people are an ethnic group native to southern Africa, primarily found in what is now Botswana. The origins of the Batswana can be traced back to the Bantu migrations that occurred in Africa thousands of years ago. They have a rich cultural heritage and have played a significant role in the history of the region.

Where did the phrase brass monkeys come from?

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The phrase "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey" comes from naval slang and refers to extremely cold weather. It is believed to originate from the 18th or 19th century when naval warships had brass primate-shaped holders (called brass monkeys) that held cannonballs. In cold weather, the contraction of the metal caused the cannonballs to fall off.

Who coined the term mole?

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The term "mole" was coined by the German chemist Wilhelm Ostwald in the early 20th century to represent a specific number of atoms or molecules. It is used in chemistry to express amounts of a substance for easier calculations and comparisons.

Where did the word Haboob originate?

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If it doesn't matter what we call dust storms in the U.S. Midwest, then why the sudden urgency to call them "haboobs"?

It seems odd there are so many here and in other forums on this topic who are eager to jump in and demean those who question the use of the word when in fact it is a new adoption of an Arabic word and has no precedent nor reason in this country and region for being other than novelty and to portray a facade of "worldliness". If calling a "dust storm" a "haboob" is so worldly, then why not the reverse? English is the de facto universal language, after all..

Here in the U.S. we have "Dust Storms". Do you think that in the Middle East the weathermen and agendists are stumbling all over each other to use the the term "Dust Storm" to describe a haboob? Do you believe that if that were the case that the majority of thinking Middle Easterners wouldn't question the sudden adoption of an English term for a Middle Eastern weather phenomena?

Does a certain usual segment of our U.S society constantly do or say absurd things or adopt incongruous practices for the sake of appearing "progressive" and "worldly" and to portray themselves as cultural illuminati? Yes.

Get the monkey off your back?

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This phrase means to break free from a burden or addiction that has been weighing you down. It typically refers to overcoming a challenge or problem that has been holding you back. It signifies the need to face and resolve the issue to move forward.

What is the origin of the word jaguar?

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The word "jaguar" derives from the Tupian word "yaguara," meaning "he who kills with one leap." This refers to the jaguar's powerful hunting abilities in South America where the animal is native.

What is the origin of the word nudge?

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The word "nudge" originated in the 17th century and is believed to come from a Scandinavian source, possibly related to the Norwegian dialect word "nugga," meaning to push or knock gently. It is commonly used to describe a light touch or push as a way to draw someone's attention or prompt them to take action.

How did the word chupacabra get its name?

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The word "chupacabra" is derived from Spanish, where "chupar" means "to suck" and "cabra" means "goat." The name originated from the creature's reputation for supposedly sucking the blood of goats and other livestock.

What is the origin of the word jungle?

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The word "jungle" is derived from the Sanskrit word "jangala," meaning uncultivated land or wasteland. It was later adopted into Portuguese and then into English to refer to dense, tropical forests or tangled, overgrown vegetation.