The Big List

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This is the list, some 400 word and phrase origins. The words and phrases are selected because their origins are inherently interesting or because some bit of folklore, sometimes true and sometimes false, is associated with the origin. The etymologies of common words with straightforward explanations can be found in any good dictionary and I do not attempt to reproduce them here. Many, if not most, of the words have been added as a result of questions or suggestions from readers of the site.

cad / caddie / cadet

cadmium

Caesarean section..

calcium

California

californium

call a spade a spade

Canada

cancer

capital / capitol

carbon / diamond / graphite

card sharp / card shark

Carolina

catch-22

caucus

c├Žsium, cesium

cerium

cesium

chad

chairman

charger plate

charley horse

chili

China

chlorine

chow

Christian

chrome

chromium / chrome

church key

churl

cinch / lead pipe cinch

Close, But No Cigar

cloud nine

cobalt

cockpit

cocktail

coin a phrase

cold turkey

cold war

colonel

Colorado

Columbia

columbium

commando

commode

condom

Connecticut

conventional weapon / weapon of mass destruction

cop

copernicium

copper

cotton

cotton-picking

cowabunga

cracker

crackerjack

crap

craps

crash blossom

creek, up a creek

crud / cruddy / curd

cuckquean, quean

cunt

curd / crud / cruddy

curfew

curium

curmudgeon

cut the mustard

cut to the chase

cute

cyber-

Dago

Dakota

dark and stormy night

darmstadtium

Davy Jones’s locker

deadline

debt

deer

Delaware

denim / jeans

devil to pay

diamond

dickens

didymium

die

digs

dirt poor

dismal

Dixie

dizzy

dog eat dog

doh / duh

dollar

dollars to doughnuts

dolly

dongle

doom

doozy

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