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Interesting Origins Of Words & Phrases (Etymologies)


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I recently got curious as to why the term "to coin a phrase" was the way it is. I associated coins to be button-like objects made of silver and I really couldn't figure out how it could have ever been used as a verb which didn't even relate to currency.

Fortunately, we now have the internet and I don't need to lose sleep over such trivia. For those who are interested, I looked it up and wish to share with our community. Here is the explanation:

Coining, in the sense of creating, derives from the coining of money by stamping metal with a die. Coins - also variously spelled coynes, coigns, coignes or quoins - were the blank, usually circular, disks from which money was minted. This usage derived from an earlier 14th century meaning of coin, which meant wedge. The wedge-shaped dies which were used to stamp the blanks were called coins and the metal blanks and the subsequent 'coined' money took their name from them.

Source: Phrases.org

So apparently, coin wasn't even originally the term of the item itself and only got the name from the mold used to make it - similar to "stamp", I guess - and that seems to have been the idea behind using it in the same way someone would mold or stamp a new phrase.

Who here knew about this origin? Am I alone in not getting the term right away?  :confused: Also, please do share some of your known interesting etymologies here!

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  • 1 year later...

"Tawdry" (something you might say with regards to cheap, flashy jewellery) has an interesting story to it.

Apparently, it comes from "Saint Audrey", who died from throat tumor. She believed it to be a punishment for her youth when she wore frivolous lace necklaces. Later on tawdry meant just that - lace or silk necklace - and with time it acquired the present-day negative meaning.

Here's an interesting article about this word: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/tawdry.html

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