A caller from Long Beach, California, says hell for leather describes “a reckless abandonment of everything but the pursuit of speed.” But why hell for leather? The expression seems to have originated in the mid-19th century, referencing the wear and tear on the leather from a rough ride on horseback at breakneck speed. But similar early versions include hell falleero and hell faladery. There’s also hell for election, which can mean the same thing and appears to be a variation of hell-bent for election. 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]