Query About Etymological Discoveries

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Sep 21 16:43:26 UTC 2009

I am writing an article about etymological discoveries of recent decades, exploring the question of whether anyone pays any attention to discoveries that shed factual light on the derivation of a term or whether the media and the public continue believing in erroneous derivations despite the discovery.  Some examples of "etymological discoveries" of recent decades would be _O.K._ deriving from _oll korrect_, _hooker_ not deriving from the name of a Civil War general, _bug_ 'computer defect' not deriving from the discovery of a moth inside an early computer, _in like Flynn_ not deriving from Erroll Flynn's trial, _flack_ not deriving from _flak_.  Can anyone suggest other examples?

Note that I am not asking for discoveries that push back the earliest date of usage of a term (the "when") without affecting "why" a term is used.

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list