More Misconceptions about Word Origins

Irregardless is a word. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary states that, “The most frequently repeated remark about it is that ‘there is no such word.’  While incorrectly used, it has gained wide enough use to qualify as a word.

The expression “rule of thumb”, which is used to indicate a technique for generating a quick estimate, was originally coined from a law allowing a man to beat his wife with a stick, provided it was not thicker than the width of his thumb. In fact, the origin of this phrase remains uncertain, but the false etymology has been broadly reported in media including The Washington Post (1989), CNN (1993), and Time magazine (1983).

“Golf” did not originate as an acronym of “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.” The word’s true origin is unknown, but it existed in the Middle Scots period.

The word “gringo” did not originate during the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), the Venezuelan War of Independence (1811–1823), the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920), or in the American Old West (c. 1865–1899) as a corruption of the lyrics “green grow” in either “Green Grow the Lilacs” or “Green Grow the Rushes, O” sung by US-American soldiers or cowboys; nor did it originate during any of these times as a corruption of “Green go home!”, falsely said to have been shouted at green-clad American troops. The word originally simply meant “foreigner”, and is probably a corruption of Spanish griego, “Greek.”

The phrase “sleep tight” did not originally refer to a supposed Medieval or early modern practice of tightening feather mattresses with ropes.The word “tight” here simply means “soundly”.

Tomorrow, Misconceptions about the “X” in Christmas     Rita Bay

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