Monday, November 07, 2005

(This will help you with your quota of learning something new today)

"Coin A Phrase

Sometimes interesting words a phrases are right under our noses. After using it countless times on this site, a reader asked me where the term to coin a phrase came from?

The verb to coin originally meant to literally mint a coin. It dates to the 14th century. In the late-16th century, the sense generalized to become to create or invent something other than coin, including words and phrases. In 1940 the specific usage of the phrase to coin a phrase, used ironically to introduce a banal statement or cliche, came into use.

Some believe that usage of to coin in this fashion is actually an error, believing instead that it should be to quoin. This term is a printer's term meaning to secure a block of type with a quoin, or metal wedge. So to quoin a phrase is to set it into type or make it permanent. But quoin is simply a spelling variant of coin that is primarily used in this specialized printing sense. The sense meaning to create is invariably spelled coin.

(Source: Oxford English Dictionary)"

To learn how other phrases originated, check out this website.

****WARNING: There are some words of questionable nature listed on this website. Although I believe the site explains the origin of these words in a tactful way, having them appear on your computer screen infront of small children might not be the best idea.****

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