Word Stories | notes on the origins of interesting words

"Mojo" may not have a "precise" meaning today, if it ever did, but it's a powerful word nonetheless. "Mojo" is magic, magical ability, the power to get things done. "Mojo" first appeared in the 1920s in the southern United States, and probably entered Black English in the US from the Gullah word "moco" (magic), Gullah being a creole (mixture of languages) spoken by some groups of African-Americans in the coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina. The ultimate root of "mojo" was almost certainly the word "moco'o," which means "shaman or medicine man" in the African language Fulani.

Origin of the word Paparazzi - Tutorial At Home

Let us try and understand the origin of words and phrases in the article that follows.

What's the origin of the word drunk? - Quora

To cut to the chase, the word in question is more often spelled "feak," although the only dictionary I've found that lists either form is the Oxford English Dictionary, so I guess it does count as a seriously obscure term. In any case, the origin of "feak" (or "feek") is the German word "fegen," meaning "to cleanse or sweep." The term "feak" first appeared in English back around 1575 and has always been primarily associated with falconry, as illustrated by this quotation from a 1686 explanation of the proper falconry terms: "When she [your Hawk] hath Fed, say she Feaketh her Beak and not wipeth it."

What's the origin of the word drunk

Dear Word Detective: "Dotage" is a strange little word that I always assumed meant just "old age." But I just looked up the word and find it and its more obscure relative "dotard" carrying connotations of second childhood or senility. For derivation, I am referred to "dote," which I've always known in the "excessive fondness" sense, but there is also a sense of "exhibiting foolishness or feeble-mindedness." The older I get, the more alarming these connections seem. What can you find about the history of these words that might comfort an old codger? -- Don Platt, St. Charles, MO.

You'll find that some of the origins that are mentioned below have rather surprising whereabouts.

List of English words of Italian origin; ..

Of the several kinds of "nap" in English, the most well-known is "nap" meaning "a short sleep" (or, as a verb, "to take a short sleep"). Modern English inherited this "nap" from the Old English "hnappian," meaning "to doze," but its ultimate origin is unknown. But that's OK, because the "nap" in "nap of the earth" has nothing to do with dozing. You're on the right trail when you assume that it is connected to the "nap" or surface of a carpet or cloth. This kind of "nap" arrived in English around 1440 from the Middle Dutch "noppe," meaning "tuft of wool." The "nap" of wool or cloth is the layer of projecting fibers on the surface, and "nap of the earth" metaphorically likens the hills, valleys, trees and so forth of the earth to the "nap" of a carpet.

Origin of the word Domain - YouTube

Dear Word Detective: I can't find the origin of the phrase "nap of the earth." I will make out as a big hero and intellectual big-timer if I can find it and post it on my rotorcraft newsgroup. We all know the one general meaning of "flying close to the earth" and following the earth's contours, especially in a helicopter, and "nap" probably refers to the "nap" as on a carpet, but the origin is eluding us. One wag said it originated in Viet Nam, but I know it is way older than that, as I'm way older than that and remember it from my childhood. -- Ken J., via the internet.

List of English words of Italian origin

It's no accident that you almost never hear "paparazzo," the singular form of "paparazzi." "Paparazzi" almost always travel in packs. While "paparazzi" were much in the news a few years ago in connection with Princess Diana's untimely death, neither the word (which first appeared in English around 1968) nor the "paparazzi" themselves are new. "Paparazzi" take their name from the celebrity photographer Signor Paparazzo, a character in Frederico Fellini's 1960 film "La Dolce Vita." Fellini evidently didn't like the paparazzi any more than today's celebrities do. Before Fellini's film made "paparazzo" synonymous with "pushy creep with a camera," it was an Italian dialect word meaning "buzzing insect."

paparazzi: meaning, origin, translation - WordSense

Ah, derring-do, where has it gone? I can't remember the last time I saw any real derring-do in the movies or on TV, but it was probably in a Dudley Doright cartoon. Dudley, whose adventures appeared as a feature on the old Rocky the Flying Squirrel show, had derring-do to spare, saving brave Nell Fenwick from the clutches of Snidely Whiplash each and every week. But derring-do seems to have fallen by the wayside of late in favor of so-called "heroes" of the James Bond stripe, whose heroism apparently lies in their ability to read the directions for the endless baroque gadgets they employ. I suppose one could nominate Jackie Chan for "derring-do," but all that jumping around and kicking gives me a headache.

is the origin of the word paparazzi

Dear Word Detective: Can you tell me the origin of "derring-do"? It seems to have something to do with "daring," but I'd like to know how old the phrase is, and where it comes from. -- Michael Crump, via the internet.