Online Etymology Dictionary
December 9, 2004 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Ever wondered why they use K to record a baseball strike? How about the origin of eavesdrop? What about vamping on a piano? All this and more at the Online Etymology Dictionary.
posted by xmutex (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by rhapsodie at 2:36 PM on December 9, 2004

Yay, another site to add to my growing list of language references.
The site creator sure gives a detailed bio of himself! But hey, I can dig a language geek who loves nature and hates SUVs.
Amen brother.
Thanks, xmutex.
posted by NorthernLite at 2:36 PM on December 9, 2004

Good stuff. Thank you.
posted by majick at 2:44 PM on December 9, 2004

[This is f*cking good, if a bit verbose.]
posted by psmealey at 3:02 PM on December 9, 2004

As far as I know, a 'piano vamp' is a short rhythmic pattern played many times over in the course of a song, and has little to do with being extempore or not. Very nice resource anyway, thanks.
posted by ikalliom at 3:13 PM on December 9, 2004

Thanks for the link! Just yesterday I was wishing that Merriam-Webster had an etymology section.
posted by Specklet at 3:19 PM on December 9, 2004

The Online Etymology Dictionary... but worth introducing to a new generation of MeFites. A useful resource, but not (of course) infallible.
posted by languagehat at 3:21 PM on December 9, 2004

God damn it. I was excited about this too.

I forgot to change the search drop-down box to "since day one".

I apologize. I am currently committing ritual disembowelment.
posted by xmutex at 3:26 PM on December 9, 2004

This is terrific! I'm so glad you posted it xmutex. I missed it the first time around.
posted by LeeJay at 3:36 PM on December 9, 2004

I cringe when the pitcher has 3 strikeouts and hanging off the side of the bleachers or on the scoreboard is a big fat "KKK"
posted by afx114 at 3:41 PM on December 9, 2004

This is fun, I've always wanted to check cretin and I was right! from Fr. Alpine dialect crestin, "a dwarfed and deformed idiot," from V.L. *christianus "a Christian,".

I was, sadly, incorrect on the origins of moron but that's okay. Cretin's a better word anyway.

afx114, what about when Randy Johnson's pitching? Then its like a white supremacist with a really, really bad stutter. And that kind of makes me laugh.
posted by fenriq at 4:05 PM on December 9, 2004

posted by caddis at 4:23 PM on December 9, 2004

a while back i disagreed with someone claimed that what ashlee simpson did before fleeing the stage on SNL was vamping. to that someone: a big nelson muntz HA HA.
posted by quonsar at 5:02 PM on December 9, 2004

"of, pertaining to, or having beautiful buttocks," 1800, from Gk. kallipygos, name of a statue of Aphrodite, from kalli-, combining form of kallos "beauty" + pyge "rump, buttocks." Sir Thomas Browne (1646) refers to "Callipygæ and women largely composed behinde."
[Sorry if this isn't PC but I love the sound of the word and find the epitomology of it interesting.]
posted by Rashomon at 5:17 PM on December 9, 2004

The explanation for vamp is a little too narrow. It's primary meaning in a performance context is "to fill space", which can mean different things in different situations. You can vamp by extemporizing on a piano while the singer talks about what they ate for breakfast, by playing a short rhythmic pattern between sections in a latin-jazz tune (this is more used as a noun though), by improvising some dialogue in a play when a technical queue is late, or by dancing a jig after getting busted for lip syncing on live TV.
posted by mexican at 5:20 PM on December 9, 2004

The etymology of "vamp" is interesting, but the definition as written is wrong. To vamp, in a musical sense, is not to improvise (extemporize) but rather to play a short set of chord changes repeatedly.

On preview: what mexican said.
posted by Cryptical Envelopment at 5:25 PM on December 9, 2004

Great post, fascinating and fun. Thanks.
posted by interrobang at 9:05 PM on December 9, 2004

great link. i'm glad they put right in the first sentence "etymologies are not definitions." please to keep in mind!
posted by ism at 11:14 PM on December 9, 2004

« Older Whodunnit?   |   So that's what Beggin' Strips taste like... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments