When was “Guru” – sanskrit term meaning teacher – popularized?

I was interested to know about term Guru, when it was popularized really in Western countries ? At first I was trying to do a google books search of a word which showed that popularity of phrase sharply increased in 1955. So first question would be what affected such increase in popularity of “Guru” in … Read more

Why did the present participle become more popular than a regular active verb?

I’ve been studying Latin by myself as a kid in middle school, and I’ve gotten fairly advanced with it. However, in Latin and most other languages, the present participle is/was almost never used in the place of an active. In English, this isn’t the case. For some reason, it’s considerably more common to announce “I’m … Read more

“Side effects”, or “Side-effects”?

Merriam-Webster implies both are correct: side effect (without hyphen) side-effect (with hyphen) Which is more common? My go-to litmus test, google searching both and comparing the number of results, does not work here. My specific context here is the body of a medical research paper. To avoid debates and polling: I’m not asking which is … Read more

Is there any authoritative source on the most popular words in English, and what percentage of written material they account for?

I ran across a couple claims that relatively only a few words make up most of the written material in English — namely, that the most popular 100 words account from a third to a half of all content written in English — and although it looks plausible enough on the surface, I wanted sources. … Read more

Is “executive assistant” still much rarer than “secretary”?

According to Google NGrams, the term “executive assistant” is much less common than “secretary”. Even if I try prefixing both with “his”, to avoid meanings such as Secretary-General of the UN, the difference is still very large. Is the term “executive assistant” still much less common than “secretary”, when talking about someone who does administrative … Read more

Why and when did people start omitting “The” from “The United States”?

From federal officials to NPR news hosts (and at many points between), I’m hearing American people (who should know) refer to our country as “United States”, whereas I was taught (about 40 years ago) to call our nation “The United States”. Why and when did people start dropping the article? I don’t need convincing that … Read more

Safe as Houses – Popular consideration of this phrase’s etymology

So as not to bury the lede (yes that’s the spelling apparently): My question: According to the wiktionary the phrase “safe as houses” refers to something being as safe as investing in house property, and the phrase originated well over a century ago. As an American who has rarely heard the phrase, I am wondering … Read more

Why is “Grab” so common in advertisments (and other places where it might not make much sense)?

We area bombarded by advertisements which say “grab these offers NOW !” or “grab 2 @ 20% Discount or grab 3 @ 30% Discount !”. Dictionary meanings of Grab : Take hold of so as to seize, restrain or stop the motion of Get hold of or seize quickly and easily Make a grasping or snatching motion with the hand … Read more

Is ‘12ers’ well-established alias for 2012 Presidential candidate?

I puzzled over the first line of the article of December 9’s Time magazine titled “Des Moines Dust-Up”, which reads; ’12ers (minus Huntsman) square-off at Drake University for ABC News/Yahoo! News/WOI-TV/Des Moines Register/Iowa GOP debate from 9 – 11 pm ET. As it didn’t occur to me that 12ers means 2012 Presidential candidates (until I … Read more