linguistic notes on the ‘one’ in ‘alone’ and ‘only’

Why is the element one in words such as alone and only not pronounced like the numeral one? Both the indefinite article an (a before consonant) and the numeral one are from Old English ān—which has survived in Scotland as ane, used both as indefinite article and as numeral. This Old-English word ān meant a/an, one, […]

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origin of ‘double Dutch’ and ‘High Dutch’ (‘gibberish’)

‘double Dutch’, 19th century—from ‘Dutch’ in the sense of a language that few people can speak, and ‘double’ as a mere intensifier—‘High Dutch’, 17th century—loan translation from French ‘haut allemand’ (= ‘High German’), used in the sense of gibberish

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origin of ‘Dutch treat’ and ‘to go Dutch’

USA—‘to go Dutch’ (1907): to have every participant pay their own expenses, or share expenses equally—via ‘to go Dutch treat’ (1887), from ‘Dutch treat’ (1873): a meal, etc., at which each participant pays their share of the expenses—from a German practice

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‘better red than dead’ – ‘better dead than red’

During the Cold War, especially in the context of a possible nuclear war, ‘better red than dead’ was used to warn against uncompromising opposition to communism, while ‘better dead than red’ was used to express unconditional opposition to communism.

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How ‘blue Monday’ came to denote a gloomy Monday.

A calque of German ‘blauer Montag’, ‘blue Monday’ originally denoted a Monday on which people chose not to work as a result of excessive indulgence over the course of the weekend. Under the influence of the adjective ‘blue’ in the sense ‘dismal’, it came to denote a Monday that is depressing or trying.

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