The phrase “no great shakes” means “no great thing” or “insignificant.” The term may have arisen from the idea of shaking dice and then having a disappointing toss. If so, it would fall into a long line of words and phrases arising from gambling. Or it may derive from an old sense of the word shake meaning “swagger” or “boast.” This is part of a complete episode.
- Flee Fly Flo 01/02/2017: Wrapping up 2016 with words from the past year and some newsy limericks. Bigly and Brexit were on lots of lips this year, as well... [more]
- Gaslighting 01/02/2017: A listener in Tampa, Florida, was discussing the 2016 presidential election when the term gaslighted came up. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in... [more]
- Being Have 01/02/2017: A caller who grew up in rural Pennsylvania remembers being asked as a child, "Are you being have?" instead of "Are you behaving?" Being have,... [more]
- Stay Woke 01/02/2017: The slang term woke, as in stay woke, arose among African-Americans to refer to being aware of social injustice or racism, and then doing something... [more]
- What To Call a Parent Who Loses a Child 01/02/2017: Although in English we have the terms orphan, widow, and widower, our language lacks a one-word term that means "bereaved parent." A few other languages... [more]