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.

tabloid

tacit

tail wagging the dog

Taliban

tantalum

Taps

tawdry

technetium

teetotal

tellurium

Tennessee

tenterhooks

terbium

terrific

terrorism

testify

Texas

thallium

that’s white of you

The coldest winter…San Francisco

think outside the box

third degree, the

Third World

thorium

three sheets to the wind

threshold

throw the baby out with the bathwater

Thule

thulium, Thule

tidal wave / tsunami

tidy

tin

tinker’s damn

tip

tit for tat

titanium

toe the line

tongue in cheek

Toronto

tow-headed

trailer

trench foot / trench mouth

trespass / sin / debt

triage

trick or treat

trip the light fantastic

triskaidekaphobia

triumph

trivia / trivial

troubleshooter

truck / truck farm

truthiness

tsunami / tidal wave

tucker out

tungsten, wolfram

turkey

twenty-three skidoo

Uncle Sam

under the weather

undermine, mine

United Nations

up a creek, creek

up to snuff

upset

upsydaisy

uranium, Uranus, pitchblende

Uranus

Utah

valentine

Valkyrie

vampire

vanadium

vaudeville

Vermont

Viking

Virginia / West Virginia

virus, viral

voluntary, volunteer

wake

Washington

weapon of mass destruction / conventional weapon

weird

welch, welsh

West Virginia

whistleblower

whole nine yards, the

whole shebang, the

widow

widow’s peak

wild goose chase

Windy City, the

Wisconsin

with a grain of salt

wog

woggle

wolfram

woman

wop

world war

Wyoming

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Copyright 1997-2014, by David Wilton