Why do Australians and NZers call snacks/lunch *crib*?

From another question I found out that Australians and New Zealanders call lunch and snacks crib. On the Macquarie dictionary site, there are several (user contributed) theories about why, but nothing authoritative. These all seem to agree that it’s a mining term likely from Cornish dialect, but disagree as to it’s original meaning. User067531 provided … Read more

What made “gusto” popular?

Gusto is a foreign term which the English language appears to have borrowed twice: 1620s, “very common from the beginning of the 19th c.” [OED], from Italian gusto “taste,” from Latin gustus “a tasting,” related to gustare “to taste, take a little of.” …. English first borrowed the French form, guste “organ of taste; sense … Read more

How did ‘pretty’ semantically shift from ‘beautiful’ to ‘not a few, considerable’?

Etymonline and OED don’t expound what semantic notions underlie beauty and momentousness. Connection between Old English and Middle English words is uncertain, but if they are the same, meaning had shifted by c. 1400 to “manly, gallant,” and later moved via “attractive, skillfully made,” to “fine,” to “beautiful in a slight way” (mid-15c.). Ironical use … Read more

What is the origin of the minced oath “Jiminy”?

Jiminy, by jiminy, jumpin’ jiminy etc —used as a mild oath often in the phrases by jiminy, jiminy crickets, jiminy Christmas -Merriam Webster In a more innocent age, and long before the ubiquitous present-day usage of "fuck" as an expletive, there used to be some rather quaint expressions to express surprise, or shock. Among these … Read more

When was “untactful” first used?

I came across “untactful” in a story and wondered when it was first used and how it came to be commonly used in speech. I’ve always used “tactless”. I checked a lot of dictionaries with no results. I searched for “origins of untactful” and “etymology of untactful” with no results. I had no trouble finding … Read more

How did ‘already’ semantically shift from ‘all ready’ to indicate completed action?

Etymonline proclaims that ‘already’ did literally mean ‘all ready’. c. 1300, “in a state of readiness” (an adjectival sense, now obsolete), literally “fully ready, quite prepared,” a contraction of all + ready (adj.). So what semantic notions underlie it and Definition 2 below from OED? 2. South African. Used redundantly, esp. after a word or … Read more

what is the intent / meaning of the word unetymological

I understand that nonetymological / unetymological mean "not etymological" – i.e. something which doesn’t have any roots in formation. But I am unable to grasp its significance – does it mean "absolute" words which can’t be broken down, and hence have no etymology? Or words that don’t have any roots (how can something not have … Read more

Origin and explanation of “Operation Yellowhammer” for a worst-case scenario

The British government called its research on a worst-case scenario in the event of a no-deal Brexit Operation Yellowhammer: Ministers have published details of their Yellowhammer contingency plan, after MPs voted to force its release. It outlines a series of "reasonable worst case assumptions" for the impact of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. The … Read more

Where does the expression “triple-A” come from?

The term “AAA” or “triple-A” is a term mainly used nowadays in the video game industry, according to Wikipedia, … for video games produced and distributed by a mid-sized or major publisher, typically having higher development and marketing budgets. The same article states that it … began to be used in the late 1990s, when … Read more