Etymology

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deriving from the Greek for 'true' (eteos/etymos) and 'word' (logos)

Curious about the origin of a word or term? Send it to us and we shall go forth and investigate.

oops, whoops

Oops! As exclaimed by your newsletter editors upon receiving an email alerting us to a typo in this publication. A century ago we would have had a different response - oops has only been around since the 1930s or so. Its first known appearance in print was in a 1922 Washington Post, though its meaning is unclear (the text of the cartoon it captioned read: “Efery dog has his day, says der poet - und der same iss for goats!... Oops!”). Oops in reference to dismay at a blunder makes regular appearances from the 1930s, as does whoops.

Both oops and whoops might derive from up-a-daisy (which evolved into upsidaisy), a nonsensical phrase that has been used around children since the 18th century. This connection seems likely, as many of the earliest appearances of oops and whoops are used in the context of accidental slips and falls.