A Panama City, Florida, caller wants to know the origin of kowtow, as in “to agree in an excessively eager or annoying way.” Kowtow comes from a Chinese term that means “to bow extremely low out of respect,” from words that literally mean “knock head.” The same caller asks about bated, as in bated breath. It’s a shortening of abate, from Old French abatre, meaning “to beat down.” This is part of a complete episode.
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- Piping Hot (episode #1503) 07/23/2018: The game of baseball has alway inspired colorful commentary. Sometimes that means using familiar words in unfamiliar ways. The word stuff, for example, can refer... [more]
- Mimeographs and Dittos (episode #1502) 06/24/2018: In this episode: How colors got their names, and a strange way to write. The terms blue and orange arrived in English via French, so... [more]
- Spicy Jambalaya 06/18/2018: Teen slang from the South, and food words that are tricky to pronounce. • High schoolers in Huntsville, Alabama, told Martha and Grant about their... [more]
- Chopped Liver 06/10/2018: There's a proverb that goes "beloved children have many names." At least, that's true when it comes to the names we give our pets. "Fluffy"... [more]