Search found 2528 matches

by Jonathon Green
Thu Feb 18, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: pound
Replies: 1
Views: 4007

pound

Pound is something of a problem. It is not found till near the end of the Middle English period, i.e. c. 1450. A possible root, Anglo-Saxon 'pund', is known only in comb. 'pund-fold' and an early ME. 'pundbreche' or 'pound-breach' (found in the laws of Henry I). It is supported by the derivatives '(...
by Jonathon Green
Thu Feb 18, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: best seller
Replies: 1
Views: 3813

best seller

The term is first cited in 1889 and seems to have been a US coinage.
by Jonathon Green
Thu Feb 18, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: non-English words absorbed into English
Replies: 4
Views: 2400

non-English words absorbed into English

How long is a piece of string ... there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, given the etymology of so much English. What I suggest, however, is that you get a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases (OUP 19970. This boasts '8000 entries' from '40 languages'. Good luck.
by Jonathon Green
Sun Feb 14, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: prophet
Replies: 1
Views: 10163

prophet

Greek 'propheteis', an interpreter, proclaimer, spokesman, esp. of the will of the deity; an inspired person. This is a blend of pro-, forth, before, for + pheteis, a speaker. I add the OED's lengthy discussion of th word: One who speaks for God or for any deity, as the inspired revealer or interpre...
by Jonathon Green
Sun Feb 14, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: Blimp
Replies: 1
Views: 3951

Blimp

No-one is quite sure; the prevalling opinion is that it was invented by either th e aviator Horace Shortt (Illustrated London News 1918: Nobody in the R.N.A.S. ever called them anything but ‘Blimps’, an onomatopœic name invented by that genius for apposite nomenclature, the late Horace Shortt) or on...
by Jonathon Green
Sun Feb 14, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: Parodyme, psychomanteum
Replies: 1
Views: 4656

Parodyme, psychomanteum

Paradigm: a pattern, exemplar, example; an example or pattern of the inflexion of a noun, verb, or other inflected part of speech. Psychomanteum: I cannot work this one out; it isn't listed in any dictionary I have consulted. I have to assume, therefore, that it is in some way linked to the word it ...
by Jonathon Green
Sun Feb 14, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: Lumberjack
Replies: 1
Views: 11630

Lumberjack

Lumberjack combines the words lumber, timber, and jack, a generic for a man.
by Jonathon Green
Fri Feb 12, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: blue
Replies: 1
Views: 8190

blue

Middle English (mid-11C-mid-15C) has 'blew', and Old French 'bleu', and blue's origins and parallels can be found there and in a number of Romance languages (e.g. early forms of Portuguese/Spanish/Italian/Medieval Latin). There was an Anglo-Saxon 'bláw' but this apparently faded prior to Middle Engl...
by Jonathon Green
Fri Feb 12, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: lust
Replies: 1
Views: 4011

lust

Lust is based in a common Teutonic word, and can be found in German, Dutch, Danish, etc. The immediate root is Anglo-Saxon 'lust'. The ultimate etymology, i.e. a root meaning of lust itself, remains unexplained.
by Jonathon Green
Fri Feb 12, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: Ships
Replies: 1
Views: 3819

Ships

Trireme; however it is not three oars, but three ranks of oars.
by Jonathon Green
Fri Feb 12, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: ne'er-do-well
Replies: 1
Views: 4675

ne'er-do-well

The word, which is no more than an elided form of 'never do well', was originally northern English and Scottish dialect. It emerged, at least in print, sometime during the 18C.
by Jonathon Green
Fri Feb 12, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: masculine and feminine noun endings
Replies: 1
Views: 5768

masculine and feminine noun endings

Fortunate as we are to use a language which survives without gender, despite being a mongrel composition of others, notably Latin and its descendant French, which do, this is a problem we don't have to face. More irritatingly, I find that this being the case my various reference books are of little ...
by Jonathon Green
Fri Feb 12, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: jack shit
Replies: 1
Views: 5949

jack shit

Jack shit dates from the 1960s, is a US coinage and means 'absolutely nothing'; it is always used with a qualifying negative verb, e.g. 'you don't know jack shit about...' It combines the slang words 'jack', meaning very little, an infinitesimal amount and 'shit', in this context meaning nothing, ty...
by Jonathon Green
Fri Feb 12, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: red herring
Replies: 1
Views: 4206

red herring

The phrase, meaning a subject intended to divert attention from the real question, comes from the country practice, now discontinued (?), of providing a run for hounds by the trailing or dragging of a dead cat, or fox, and if nothing better is available a red herring, three or four miles and then se...
by Jonathon Green
Fri Feb 12, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: tekth root
Replies: 1
Views: 3865

tekth root

Ah, but I can't offer any. As we professional lexicographers put it, I haven't a clue. Apologies.