Study of the origin and history of words; looks at how spellings, pronunciations and meanings may have changed over time.

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1answer
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Etymology of 'Westeros'

Westeros sounds similar to /west of us/. It also sounds like a relaxed pronunciation of west of Essos might sound. It seems plausible that Essosians might have first called the continent West of ...
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2answers
460 views

Is this the correct etymology of “Arrakis”?

I recently learned about the term arak, which refers to a type of Middle Eastern liquor infused with aniseed. According to the Wikipedia article, the drink is named after the Arabic word araq, ...
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1answer
80 views

What is the etymology of the term “shiggy” in _Stand on Zanzibar_?

In John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, there is a slang term "shiggy," which refers to a transient woman who becomes a man's temporary romantic partner as a means to obtain shelter: That would ...
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2answers
2k views

Is there any information on the (external) etymology of “Gandalf”?

It is well known that Tolkien was, first and foremost, a linguist. His familiarity with Germanic languages comes into play more than once- think of Beorn (similar to Norwegian bjørn "bear"). It ...
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2answers
389 views

The significance of the 'Star' in Star Wars?

I understand that Star Wars, like many outer-space sci-fi's includes a variety of planets and moons to set much of the space action around: Space battle around Endor Space battle arround Yavin and ...
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1answer
2k views

What is “Kwatz!”?

In Fall of Hyperion, the Core AI Ummon periodically interjects his koans and oddly-formatted comments with [Kwatz!] What does this mean? Is it a made-up expletive? If so, why would a computer ...
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3answers
4k views

Why were Death-Eaters called Death-Eaters?

Why are Death-Eaters called Death-Eaters? What does their name mean?
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6answers
1k views

What is the etymology of “xenomorph” in the context of the Aliens franchise?

I know it's first uttered in Cameron's Aliens (1986). Once. It's a word that seems was coined for the movie itself, but one constructed of well-known root words that seem to mean "alien-shaped". In ...
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2answers
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Is “TARDIS” an acronym or backronym?

The title pretty much says it all. I see in this article an in-universe explanation, but I'm thinking more out of universe, from an original writing and production point of view. Any Whovian can ...
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2answers
4k views

What to call a winged unicorn?

I've heard a few ways of describing such a fantastical beast, but I don't know which is correct. They are known as both Alicorns (Ali supposedly from ala (wing) and Corn meaning horn), as well as ...
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2answers
601 views

Is the fictional etymology of Uruk-Hai a reference to the Uriankhai?

By the early 17th century the term Uriankhai was a general Mongolian term for all the dispersed bands to the north-west, whether Samoyed, Turkic, or Mongolian in origin. I was wondering if there ...
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9answers
7k views

Etymology of the name, “Voldemort.”

What is the etymology of the name Voldemort? He's the main antagonist character from the Harry Potter books.
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3answers
262 views

Origin of “a flower marriage?”

In Kate Elliot's Cold Magic, set in an alternate-history Earth, there are two kinds of marriage; the long-term sort we think of when we hear the term, and a temporary marriage called a "Flower ...
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3answers
922 views

What is the origin of the phrase “on the gripping hand?”

Where does the phrase "on the gripping hand" come from and what does it mean in the context of that work? I'll add that I just finished reading The Mote in God's Eye and this is not the origin of the ...