Etymology of the day: neighbor

Neighbor comes from the Old English neahgebur, meaning “near-dweller.” The first part, neah, means and gives us “nigh.” Its modern replacement, near, is the comparative form (faster < fast) of neah, and literally means “more nigh.” The second part, gebur, is “dweller.”

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(Pixabay)

m ∫ r ∫

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Etymology of the day: uncouth

Uncouth originally meant “unknown,” from the Old English cuth (known), past participle of cunnan (to know), source of can. Its sense evolved from “unknown” to “strange” to “clumsy” to “unsophisticated.”

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(Frinkiac)

m ∫ r ∫

Etymology of the day: wilderness

m ∫ r ∫

Laughingstock, gaping-stocking, scoffing-stock, and other -stock compounds

“I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point,” Walter Shaub told the New York Times after he resigned as the head of the Office of Government Ethics earlier this month. Shaub felt the Trump administration’s conflicts of interest, inter alia, are severely undermining his office’s credibility and efficacy, and compelled him to seek toothier watchdog work elsewhere.

It’s powerful choice of words, but what, exactly, is the stock in laughingstock?

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A cracking-stock? (Pixabay)

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Digging up “dirt”

Donald Trump Jr. stepped in some, er, dirt this week when the New York Times revealed he knowingly met with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Kremlin’s effort to help Trump.

Where does the word dirt come from, and when did it start referring to “compromising information”? As it turns out, we really don’t want to get our hands dirty with etymological dirt.

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Etymologically, dog dirt is no euphemism. (Pixabay)

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One “mean” etymology

Mean originally meant “in common.” If only that actually described US healthcare. 

Despite previously praising the House Republican healthcare bill as a “great plan” in a public ceremony in May, Donald Trump told senators this week that the bill was “mean, mean, mean.” Where does this common little word mean come from?

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You’re a mean one,  Mr. American Health Care Act. (A.V. Club). 

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The origin of “cloud” is very down to earth

Last week, fired FBI director James Comey testified that President Trump asked him to “lift the cloud” cast by the ongoing investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. This cloud, though, isn’t blowing over—something also true of the surprising origin of the word cloud.

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This cloud looks like…a pile of rocks. (Pixabay)

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Etymology of the Day: Thousand

In the previous post, we learned hundred literally means “count of 100.” How about the next multiple of ten up the scale, thousand?

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The etymology of “thousand” gives new meaning to a “wad of cash.” (Pixabay)

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Etymology of the day: the hazy origins of “hazy”

Are you feeling a little hazy after 4/20? Maybe from some purple haze? No, no, I’m sure you were just listening to the Jimi Hendrix song. Well, you’re not alone, as the etymology of hazy is itself quite hazy.

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Do rabbits like to home-brew? (Pixabay)

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Pepsi, Gibraltar, and other names in the news

From soda ads to ancient military strongholds, this week featured many newsworthy names.  Let’s have a look at a few—and, as always, their origins.

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The Rock of Gibraltar (Pixabay)

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