Etymology
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literacy (n.)
"ability to read and write," 1883, from literate + abstract noun suffix -cy. Illiteracy, however, dates back to 17c.
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sulphur (n.)
see sulfur. The form preferred in Britain; however, the spelling's suggestion of a Greek origin is misleading.
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johnny-cake (n.)
1739, American English, of unknown origin, perhaps a corruption of Shawnee cake, from the Indian tribe. Folk etymology since 1775, however, connects it to journey cake. Century Dictionary says "It is of negro origin."
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sax (n.)

by 1923, a colloquial shortening of saxophone. In Old English and early Middle English it meant "a knife" (compare Saxon). However distant in time and sense, they may be etymological relations (see saxophone).

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ha (interj.)
natural expression of surprise, distress, etc.; early 14c., found in most European languages (including Latin and Old French) but not in Old English (which did, however, have ha-ha).
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old hat (adj.)

"out of date," 1911, from old + hat. As a noun phrase, however, it had different sense previously. The "Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue" (1796) defines it as, "a woman's privities, because frequently felt."

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bathetic (adj.)
1834, from bathos on the model of pathetic (q.v.), which, however, does not come directly from pathos, so the formation is either erroneous or humorous. Bathotic (1863, perhaps on model of chaotic) is not much better.
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fly (adj.)
slang, "clever, alert, wide awake," by 1811, perhaps from fly (n.) on the notion of the insect being hard to catch. Other theories, however, trace it to fledge or flash. Slang use in 1990s might be a revival or a reinvention.
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pottle (n.)

"a vessel; a half-gallon measure" (however the gallon was defined), early 14c. (mid-13c. as a surname), potel, from Old French potel "a little pot," diminutive of pot (see pot (n.1)) and from Medieval Latin potellus.

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