ShowLanguage in Uniform

Rank and File

Alex from Columbia, Missouri, wonders about rank and file, meaning “the members of the body of an organization as opposed to its leaders.” In 12th-century France, the words renc or ranc referred to a row of soldiers. The word file means...

Cut Me a Huss

Manuel in Fort Worth, Texas, wonders about a phrase he’s heard from his dad and brothers: Cut me a husk meaning “Give me a break.” The term evolved from slang used by U.S. Marines serving in Vietnam, and HUS, the configuration for...

Coast Guard Prank

A listener shares yet another prank played on newbies: One of the first things you learn in the Coast Guard is that rope is called line, not rope — a vocabulary lesson reinforced by officers who would send new recruits down below to fetch 100 feet...

Sal, Salary, Salarium

The Latin word sal, or “salt,” inspired the word salarium, the pay soldiers received to buy salt. This in turn led to the English word salary. Well into the 17th century, salt remained a valuable commodity, but today if you’re not...