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As Dark as the Inside of A…

Pam in Eureka, California, says that when her mother and grandmother would enter a particularly dark room, they’d remark that it was dark as the inside of a goat. Mark Twain used the phrase dark as the inside of a cow in his book Roughing It...

Mark Twain and Helen Keller

Mark Twain and Helen Keller enjoyed a close, enduring friendship. When he learned that she was mortified was accused of plagiarism, he sent her a fond letter as touching as it was reassuring. This is part of a complete episode.

Mark Twain’s Writing Advice

Writing advice from Mark Twain, who was not a fan of adjectives. In The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, he says, “As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.” He also wrote a letter with clever, useful advice that still holds true for the...

Spondulix

Spondulix, also spelled spondulicks and spondolux, is a slang term for money. Mark Twain used it in Huckleberry Finn, although it had been around for a while before that. The word may derive from the Greek word spondylos, meaning...

Compliment Challenge

As Mark Twain observed, “The compliment that helps us on our way is not the one that is shut up in the mind, but the one that is spoken out.” Martha describes a compliment challenge her friends are taking up on Facebook, with happy...

Going Bald-Headed

To go at something bald-headed means “to rush at something head-on.” The same idea informs the phrase to “I’m going to pinch you bald-headed,” which an exasperated parent might say to a misbehaving child. The more...

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