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Like a Duck on a June Bug

Welcome to another newsletter from "A Way with Words"!

In our latest episode, we talked about bird names, "like a duck on a June bug," overuse of the word "like," the expression of disbelief "Good night, nurse!", Luddites, children's rhymes, keeping your eyes peeled, getting someone's goat, and more. And we did a word quiz besides!


Craig of Springfield, Illinois, wrote to ask, "Where did the expression 'I'll take it out of your hide' come from?"

An older version is to "tan someone's hide," which dates back more than 300 years.’To "take it out of someone's hide" means to beat them, such as with a belt or switch. "Taking something out on someone" means to vent feelings through aggressive action against someone. "Hide," of course, is just another way of saying "skin."

Rich called to tell us that in genealogical circles, the style guide of choice is Elizabeth Shown Mills's "Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace." Click! There it goes on our wishlists.

Research has been revealed that shows things with hard-to-say names are perceived as unsafe. In their paper "It Must Be Risky," Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz conclude that if a word is difficult to sound out, then we believe that whatever those words belongs to is more dangerous, including food ingredients and amusement-park rides. Find the whole paper here:


Find a summary here:


Finally, we'll leave you with a strong recommendation for Brendan Emmett Quigley's crossword puzzle site. Brendan is a regular crossword puzzle contributor to the New York Times and he creates one a month for Visual Thesaurus. You can also find three free puzzles on his site each week. Join the BEQ cult here:


Best wishes,

Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

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