Category: Word origins

New information on the origin of ‘twerk’ revealed in the OED

Twerking since 1820: an OED antedating

When the word twerk burst into the global vocabulary of English a few years ago with reference to a dance involving thrusting movements of the bottom and hips, most accounts of its origin pointed in the same direction, to the New Orleans ‘bounce’ music scene of the 1990s, and in particular to a 1993 recording […]

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Joe Dope - PM

Getting the dope on ‘dope’

Dope has lived a diverse slang life over the span of two centuries, only coming to its hip-hop adjectival sense of ‘good or excellent’ in the last 35 years. Dope as a stupid person was early American slang, first recorded in 1851, according to current Oxford English Dictionary (OED) evidence.

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generations

What are the origins of generation names?

The word seems to crop up every time you read a report on current cultural trends, especially in the US: millennial, referring to a ‘person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000’. But how did we end up with the term in the first place? And what about those other generation terms, like the Beat […]

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Video: what’s the origin of the phrase ‘to have an albatross around one’s neck’?

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'Basket case' has an offensive origin that you might not be aware of.

9 words you didn’t know had offensive origins

Nothing is stranger than discovering that words or phrases we hear every day have offensive or problematic origins. And while there’s no need to cast aspersions on the language of bygone days, it’s helpful to check in on the words we use and what they mean (or used to mean). Some of the words here […]

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Video: what is the origin of the phrase ‘hair of the dog’?

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Video: what is the origin of the word ‘OK’?

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hipsters traveling

The history of the word ‘hip’

James Brown was famously introduced by Lucas ‘Fats’ Gonder at the Apollo Theater in the early 1960s as ‘The Hardest Working Man in Show Business’, an epithet that stuck with Brown for his entire life. It is a fitting term for the word hip – the hardest working word in the lexicon of American slang. […]

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