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Questions tagged [etymology]

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

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Who decided the names for the other two parts of the original A Memory of Light?

In the foreword to The Gathering Storm, Sanderson mentions that he was contacted to write the final three books for the Wheel of Time series, which were at the time still part of A Memory of Light. ...
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Where does the name Ori come from?

What is the origin of the name Ori? There are suggestions that the name Ori may come from the Origin, however, I have not found any proof to support that. Their name may have some meaning, and given ...
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What does the word 'Horcrux' mean?

In the Potterverse, the names of characters, objects and places often have a fascinating meaning and can reveal a lot abour their attributes or characteristic. As for the names of the spells, they ...
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Is the name “Rohirrim” based on “Houyhnhnm”?

Houyhnhnm - Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift Rohirrim - The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien I have been reading Jonathan Swift's excellent Gulliver's Travels, and one of the many strange ...
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Doctor Who, old vs new, season vs series: why?

It has become common practice in discussions of the 1963-1989 and present incarnations of Doctor Who to refer to the annual broadcast cycles of the former show as "seasons", the latter as "series"; ...
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Batman or 'the Batman'? [duplicate]

Batman has tended to introduce himself as simply 'Batman', e.g. In the Keaton movie we had the line "Who are you?!" "I'm Batman" However he is also referred to as 'the Batman'. Is there any rhyme or ...
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2answers
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Does “thrull” as in the name of the Magic: the Gathering creature type etymologically come from “thrall”?

Does “thrull” as in the name of the Magic: the Gathering creature type etymologically come from “thrall”? If not, then where does the word come from? Does the word appear in earlier fantasy fiction?
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First appearance of the word Sith

Etymology would be nice but mostly I'd like to know where this word was first used, be it film or novel. I'm thinking at least the meaning is an invention of Star Wars universe if not the word itself....
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What's the history of the term “starship”?

Context: I rewatched Star Wars: A New Hope in preparation for the impending release of The Force Awakens, and was struck by this, in the opening crawl: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away......
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What is the origin of the name “Jedi”?

Where does the name "Jedi" originate, either in or out of universe? Is there any in-universe evidence at all for the origin of the word? Out of universe, how did George Lucas come up with the name "...
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Is there any connection between Mace from Caravan of Courage and Mace Windu?

While watching the first Star Wars Ewok movie; Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure I noticed that one of the main characters was called Mace. This of course made me think of Mace Windu from Episodes ...
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What is the inspiration for Moff?

In Star Wars we have Moffs and Grand Moffs. They don't seem to fit with the nomenclature of the Imperial Navy (captain, general, admiral etc). Is the title Moff based on any real life rank or is it ...
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What is the etymology of Spock's name?

The title says it all really: What was the inspiration and/or origin for Spock's name? The only other Spock I know of is, of course, Dr Spock who wrote about children - was this at all an influence?
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1answer
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Why did JK Rowling choose the name 'Hogwarts'? [duplicate]

A follow on from my previous question, I'm wondering, has JK Rowling ever commented on why she chose to name the school Hogwarts in particular?
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1answer
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Etymology of 'Muggles'

The title says it all really: what is the etymology of JK Rowling's word 'Muggle'? I have read from the Harry Potter Wikia that: Muggle is derived from the word "mug," which refers to a gullible ...
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3answers
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What is the origin of the term “first contact”?

This term has a long history in Star Trek: Star Trek: First Contact ST:TNG episode "First Contact" First Contact Day Also: Stargate: Atlantis episode "First Contact" Does this term originate in Star ...
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2answers
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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 Essos,...
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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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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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3answers
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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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1answer
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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
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How did Ursula K. LeGuin come up with the word “ansible”?

Legend says that Ursula K. LeGuin coined the word ansible as an anagram of lesbian in "Rocannon's World" (looong before Card). Is this known to be true (the anagram part)? [citation needed]
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Did Heinlein invent the term “boot-chevrons” or did an actual military use it?

In Starship Troopers the recruits that are given leadership positions in boot camp are said to be given boot chevrons. I've never seen the term used elsewhere until I read the Starship Trooper-esque A ...
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1answer
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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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Why were Death-Eaters called Death-Eaters?

Why are Death-Eaters called Death-Eaters? What does their name mean?
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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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4answers
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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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1answer
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Etymology of the name Quinjet?

In the Marvel universes, the Avengers' jets are Quinjets. What's the etymology of this name? Does this refer to someone in the universe? Or a comic book creator?
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5answers
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What do you 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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4answers
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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 was ...
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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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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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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, The Gripping Hand? I'll add that I just finished reading The Mote in God's Eye and this is ...