Search found 2528 matches

by Jonathon Green
Sat Feb 06, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: Greece
Replies: 1
Views: 3729

Greece

As I have observed before, when asked questions of this sort, you need a gazeteer or encyclopedia.
by Jonathon Green
Sat Feb 06, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: Here's Mud In Your Eye
Replies: 1
Views: 1121

Here's Mud In Your Eye

The original use of the phrase is in World War I; thus it may be that the reference, for which I have no hard and fast etymology, may refer to the mud of the trenches.
by Jonathon Green
Sat Feb 06, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: poppycock
Replies: 1
Views: 1294

poppycock

Dutch 'pappekak', soft faeces.
by Jonathon Green
Sat Feb 06, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: Penitentiary
Replies: 1
Views: 1109

Penitentiary

The true first use of penitentiary came in 1577 when it was defined as 'of or pertaining to penance; administering, or undergoing, penance.' Its use to mean prison began in 1816, when it was used as an abbreviation for the 18C term 'Penitentiary House'.
by Jonathon Green
Sat Feb 06, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: the straw that broke the camel's back
Replies: 1
Views: 1443

the straw that broke the camel's back

The first citation of the use comes in Dickens' Dombey & Son (1848): 'As the last straw breaks the laden camel’s back, this piece of underground information crushed the sinking spirits of Mr. Dombey' and it is followed by one from the celebrated nursing heroine Florence Nightingale, who stated in he...
by Jonathon Green
Sat Feb 06, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: printing
Replies: 1
Views: 1052

printing

Stet comes from Latin stet, 'let it stay'.
by Jonathon Green
Sat Feb 06, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: business presentations
Replies: 1
Views: 974

business presentations

Perhaps its an extended use of 'deck' meaning a pack of cards.
by Jonathon Green
Sat Feb 06, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: panhandler
Replies: 1
Views: 1078

panhandler

Either the noun 'pan', into which the charitable donor placed money, or the goldfields, where hopefuls 'panned' for gold, washing earth and rocks in perforated 'pans'.
by Jonathon Green
Sat Feb 06, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: toodleloo
Replies: 1
Views: 5320

toodleloo

Either the 'tooting' of a horn as a coach moves off, or French 'à tout à l'heure', goodbye.
by Jonathon Green
Tue Feb 02, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: prairie
Replies: 1
Views: 1071

prairie

I can only offer the evidence of the OED citations, in which prairies, as a plural, can found from the mid-18C onwards.
by Jonathon Green
Tue Feb 02, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: Use of foot or feet
Replies: 1
Views: 1456

Use of foot or feet

I offer the words of the Bloomsbury Goood Word Guide: foot or feet? The plural of foot, as a unit of measurement, may be foot or feet: a six-foot fence; five feet tall; nine feet eight inches long; a pane of glass measuring two foot six by four foot three. In compound adjectives that precede the nou...
by Jonathon Green
Tue Feb 02, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: broad dame
Replies: 1
Views: 1098

broad dame

Dame is no more than a borrowing of the standard English word. Broad seems to reflect an image of a shapely, well-built woman.
by Jonathon Green
Tue Feb 02, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: modem
Replies: 1
Views: 1162

modem

Modulator and demodulator. The instrument, while associated with the modern era of e-mail and the Internet, actually dates to 1958.

MODulator EMulator
by Jonathon Green
Tue Feb 02, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: 'Thou' and 'You'
Replies: 1
Views: 1231

'Thou' and 'You'

'Thou' is a now obsolete (in English) means of conveying the second-person singular, which in such languages as French or German implies a definite intimacy. To address someone with whom one is not intimate, the second-person plural, translated as 'you' is preferred. Today the divison, while still p...
by Jonathon Green
Tue Feb 02, 1999 8:00 am
Forum: Ask the Wordwizard Archive
Topic: mooncalf
Replies: 1
Views: 2001

mooncalf

Mooncalf is defined in the following senses: 1. a. An abortive shapeless fleshy mass in the womb; a false conception. Obs. Regarded as being produced by the influence of the moon. b. A misshapen birth, a monstrosity. Obs. or arch. c. One born with undeveloped brain; a congenital idiot; a born fool. ...