Words, words, words… You say them all the time. But do you know what they really mean? Source: http://www.wordorigins.org/
Paparazzi: Paparazzi, plural of Paparazzo, comes from the name of a character in Fellini's La Dolce Vita. In the movie, Paparazzo was a photographer who would go to great lengths to take pictures of American movie stars.
Pay Through The Nose: Popular folklore has it that this phrase dates back to 9th century Ireland. Viking raiders would demand tribute from the local Irish and slit open the noses of anyone who refused to pay. I do not know whether not Vikings were among the first to practice rhinoplasty, but it is most definitely not the origin of the phrase, which doesn't make its appearance until 1672. Eight hundred years of an underground existence is just too long to be plausible. There is another 17th century slang term for money, rhino. In Greek, of course, rhino means nose. It seems logical that these two are connected, but what significance a nose has with money is simply not known.
Weapon of Mass Destruction: This term for a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon is older than you might think. It actually dates to 1937, before the existence of nuclear or biological weapons. It was first used by the London Times on 28 December of that year, "Who can think without horror of what another widespread war would mean, waged as it would be with all the new weapons of mass destruction?" The original reference is to aerial bombing of cities, which had become a reality that year in the Spanish Civil War, chemicals, and other modern weaponry. In the 1960s, the term weapons of mass destruction became a jargon term of the arms control community. Throughout the rest of the 20th century, the term pretty much remained an arms control jargon term, until 2002 when events in Iraq brought the term into the public eye.
Wag the Dog: The phrase "the tail that wags the dog" dates to the turn of the century. In 1907, it appeared in Von Arnum's Fraulein Schmidt. F. Scott Fitzgerald used it in 1935. The meaning is quite obvious, the subsidiary part is controlling the major part. In its most current usage, the case is of the media creating the crisis instead of the crisis generating media interest.
Taliban: The word Taliban is from the Farsi/Pushtu Talib, meaning student (the root is a borrowing from Arabic). The Taliban were originally Afghan students in Islamic religious schools, or madrassas, in Pakistan. In 1993, they formed into a militant political group and returned to Afghanistan, bringing their own particular version of conservative Sunni Islam to that country. By 1996, they had become the dominant military and political force in the country, capturing the capital, Kabul.
Redneck Redneck dates to 1830, when it was first used to denote the Presbyterians of Fayetteville, Georgia. But it wasn't until 1893 that the term was used in the modern sense of a poor, white farmer or laborer. The significance of the name is somewhat obscure. Three explanations are commonly offered. First, it could be a reference to a ruddy neck caused by anger. Second, it could be a reference to sunburned necks caused by working in the fields all day. Finally, it could be a reference to pellagra which turns the neck red. The original reference to Presbyterians may be to poor, Scotch-Irish farmers that was later expanded to a larger economic class. There is also a tale in which it referred to striking coal miners who wore red bandannas as a means of group identification. This is unlikely due to what we know of its origin. The sunburn or pellagra explanation seems more likely than the anger one. Interestingly, the Afrikaans Rooinek, which literally means redneck, is a disparaging term the Boers used to apply to the British and later became associated with any European immigrant to South Africa.
Gossip: This is a very old word with a much more modern meaning. It comes from the Old English godsibb, meaning a godparent or baptismal sponsor. It comes from god + sib (meaning blood relation as in sibling). It dates to at least 1014. By 1362, the term was being used to mean a close friend, one you might chose to be godparent to your children. It was applied to both men and women, although in later uses it came to be applied only to women. By 1566, the word was being used to mean a flighty woman, one who would engage in idle talk. From there it came to mean the idle talk itself.
Polka Dot: Where did this name for round circles of dye on clothing originate? And what, if anything, does it have to do with the dance of the same name? In the 1840s, the polka was sweeping America. It was the latest dance craze, like the Charleston of the 1920s or the Macarena of a few summers ago. In an effort to cash in on the fad, manufacturers began naming all sorts of thing polka. Polka gauze, polka hats, polka curtain bands and many other products with the polka name hit the market in the 1840s. Although, the actual term polka dot is not attested to until the 1880s. Of these, only polka dots survive today. There are two possible origins for the word polka. It could come from the Czech pulka, or half-step, Pul meaning half. Or, it could be a combination of the polonaise and mazurka.