I just posted a question about English etymology in Linguistics SE.

I was contemplating whether to post it here, but decided against it.

Could I have posted it here, or would it have been off-topic?

  • 7
    60% chance to get closed, my 2c. I hope some senior members answer your question.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 16:12
  • @NVZ Thanks for the info.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 16:13
  • I personally don't like most etymology questions being on Linguistics.SE, so I'd say definitely ask them here in the future :) (But other people disagree and like having them at Linguistics.SE) Commented May 1, 2016 at 0:54
  • I disagree with @NVZ. Your question will never be closed on ELU. One of the most valued and interesting subjects on ELU seems to be "etymology" and as I commented below, I have witnessed a very small number of etymology-related questions closed and the closed qeustions were mostly general reference. The first-page 50 questions of the etymology tag seems to support my view.
    – user140086
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 16:39
  • @Rathony I don't mean such questions aren't welcome. They're the most welcome. My comment was just that, a comment, a 2c. I wouldn't vote to close. Sorry if my comment was misleading.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 16:43
  • 2
    Related: meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/7853/…
    – user66974
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 12:04
  • 2
    Then again some users just auto-delete perfectly good etymological questions as soon as they receive a negative-sounding comment. They don't even wait for a downvote! They have convinced themselves that the user-base frowns on etymology questions, which I think is absolutely false.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 12:30

2 Answers 2


I think NVZ is right: it may very well have been closed on EL&U, sadly. This site is very close happy about questions that are very interesting but that is not exclusively about modern English (and also about other types of questions). I would certainly support your question, though.

The cause of this that it takes the votes of only 5 high-rep users to close a question (a tiny minority of high-reps), and the other high-reps can do nothing whatsoever to prevent this from happening if they're just browsing the site, however much they like the question.

The only thing they could do is try and find the question in the Review Queue and vote to leave it open, but that is a rather tedious exercise, and it can only be done after the question has already received close-votes. So there is no way to vote "don't close" during normal question-browsing until after a question has already been closed—at which point the question has been up for a while, and most users have already seen it once, and they are unlikely to view the question again later. The number of high-rep users is ever increasing, so this problem is unlikely to ever be solved.

  • Thanks for your insight.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 17:56
  • But some sites have a way in which other high-rep members can vote against closing, and that will then subtract a vote. They can also vote to re-open. Is that not possible to implement on English SE?
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 18:42
  • 1
    Actually if the question is in the Review Close Votes Queue and 3 reviewers click "Leave Open", the question is immediately removed from the review queue and starts a 4-day countdown to let the existing close votes "age off". (If people visit the question directly, they can still cast close votes, but it won't be "fast-tracked" by being shown to reviewers, at least.) See this meta.se question for details on "leave open" voting.
    – Hellion
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 18:59
  • 2
    @Hellion: Okay, good point, I've edited my answer. But that is only if you happen to come across the question in the review queue, not if you view it the normal way when you're just browsing the site. But you still get to close-vote when you're browsing normally, so the odds are massively stacked against leaving questions open. Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 19:11
  • 2
    Your answer to Fiksdal's question on Linguistics SE is very interesting, by the way. Do you, as a participant on both sites, have any preference or rule of thumb about which English etymology questions are more suitable for EL&U and which ones are more suitable for Linguistics? I think answers like yours would enrich and perhaps upgrade EL&U, but maybe it's selfish to want them on our site when so many linguistics experts are on hand at Linguistics to deal with them.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 21:43
  • 5
    @SvenYargs: Thank you. I would say this question is equally suitable for either site. It is as much about English as it is about linguistics. However, since many questions are closed here if some element in them is not about English, I wouldn't risk it, so I would probably recommend that users should post it on Linguistics, which is smaller and therefore has fewer closer-voting users. And/or perhaps the people there are just less liable to close questions because they get fewer questions, or because they are different people. Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 22:18
  • Hi, Cerberus. I just saw your answer and I wonder why you would say "it may very well have been closed on EL&U, sadly. This site is very close happy about questions that are very interesting but that is not exclusively about modern English". Based on my 8-month experience, I have witnessed a very small number of etymology-related questions closed and they were mostly general reference. The first-page 50 questions of the tag seems to support my view. The question above will never be closed on ELU.
    – user140086
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 16:36
  • @Rathony: I don't have an example on hand right now, but I have seen it happen several times that a question asking about the etymology of an English word was closed because it also inquired into the word's history before it was adopted by English. I will agree with you, though, that the closing of such questions is inconsistent—which is perhaps to be expected when it is several different high-reps that decide on different occasions. Commented May 1, 2016 at 16:46
  • @Cerberus I share your view and under the circumstances where there are not many ways to prevent such a question from being closed, I think it is important to find a question which has been unduly closed (or even before being closed) and post it on Meta for it to be reopened (or prevent it from being closed) ASAP. I think that's the quickest and simplest way to get it reopened. I will do my best!!!
    – user140086
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 16:48
  • @Rathony: To be quite honest, I'm afraid I lack the energy for doing that myself. And it would be too frustrating for me. My personal policy is to ignore that which has the potential to frustrate me. Makes for an easier SE life. But I encourage your efforts! Commented May 1, 2016 at 16:59
  • @Cerberus Well, let me be frustrated, then. :-) Please ping me in the chat room when there is any need. I will be more than happy to post it myself.
    – user140086
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 17:02

Since both words are (now) part of the English language, I think that asking about their etymology would be on-topic at this site. Also, the question you posted at Linguistics SE shows research effort on your part, so the question would clearly have passed muster on that account.

Just by way of underscoring that no easily accessible answer to your question is available online, you might have added to the question (if you had asked it at English Language & Usage) that you had consulted Etymology Online (the etymology resource of first resort at this site) and found no hint there that angst and anxiety are related.

At that point, the only threat to your question would be from question monitors who might feel that going farther back than Old High German and Latin in search of a shared ancestor is too distant from the Englishness of the two words to justify posting the question on EL&U. I disagree: To me, welcoming questions about etymology (which we do) means welcoming questions that look back deep into the past—and I think voting to close your question because it might require delving as far back as Indo-European would be unreasonable. But some of my fellow EL&Uers take a very narrow view of "English language and usage," and I can't (and don't) speak for them.

  • 1
    Thoughtful answer, thanks!
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 17:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .