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Noon of Night

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As a kid, you may have played that game where you phone someone to say, “Is your refrigerator running? Then you better go catch it!” What’s the term for that kind of practical joke? Is it a crank call or a prank call? There’s a difference. • If someone has a chip on his shoulder, he’s spoiling for a fight — but what kind of chip are we talking about? Potato? Poker? Hint: the phrase arose at a time when working with wood was more likely. • A conversation with an expert on polar bears leads to a discussion of history and folklore around the world. • Plus noon of night, omadhaun, chicken lights, choke-and-slide, tragomaschalia, another think coming vs. another thing coming, and bada bing, bada boom. This episode first aired June 24, 2017.

Horizontalize your Perpendicularity

 After our conversation about a verbose admonition to use short words, a Tallahassee, Florida, man called with a version he learned as a boy: Do you have the audacity to doubt my veracity? Or even to insinuate that I would prevaricate? While I’ll thrust my phalanges into your physiognomy with such intensity that it will horizontalize your perpendicularity.

Crank Call vs. Prank Call

 There’s a difference between a crank call and a prank call.

Chip on the Shoulder

 If one has a chip on one’s shoulder, they’re spoiling for a fight. The phrase derives from the old practice of literally putting a chip of wood or other small object on one’s shoulder and daring an adversary to knock the chip off. The gesture indicates that a line has been crossed and the opponent is ready to fight.


 In Ireland, the word omadhaun means “a foolish person.”

Add a Letter to Form Different Bands Word Puzzle

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s puzzle this week involves adding a letter to the names of famous bands to come up with entirely new ones. For example, Billy Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool are trading in their instruments for a lime-colored delivery truck. What are they known as now?

Chicken Lights on Trucks

 Those strings of amber lights on 18-wheelers are known as chicken lights. But why? Although the term’s origin is unclear, a participant in a discussion forum of the American Historical Truck Society suggests they may have been originally associated with trucks hauling Frank Perdue chickens.

Noon of Night is the Middle of the Night

 Noon of night is an archaism, a poetic way of saying “midnight.”

Choke and Slide

 A New York City listener recalls that as a youth in Erie, Pennsylvania, he and his peers referred to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a choke-and-slide or choke-n-slide. It’s a reference to the qualities of the sticky peanut butter and the slippery jelly. The colloquial names of some other foods also refer to how they make their way down the throat, including gap-and-swallow and slick-and-go-down or slip-go-down. Other foods named for action associated with them are saltimbocca, literally “jump into the mouth,” and tiramisu, from Italian for “pick me up!”

Too Yet

 A woman who grew up in south central Minnesota grew up using the phrase too yet, which can have various meanings at the end of a sentence, usually with some negative sense. An article by Peter Veltman in American Speech suggests that the tag too yet used this way is a calque from Dutch.

Polar Words

 A conversation with a leading expert on polar bears has Martha thinking about several bear-related words, including the term arctic and the feminine name Ursula.

Baldy Sour

 In the 1940’s, kids might tease a playmate who got a short haircut by calling them “baldy sour.”

Another Think Coming vs. Another Thing Coming

 A man in Bowling Green, Kentucky wonders: is the correct phrase “you have another thing coming“? Or is it “another think coming“?


 The medical term tragomaschalia means “smelly armpit sweat,” and derives from Greek words that mean “goat armpit.”

Bada Boom, Bada Bing

 A woman from Abilene, Texas, is preparing to make a move to the US northeast, and was amused when a realtor in her new hometown used the phrase “bada boom, bada bing,” a phrase she’d heard only in movies. It’s possible that this term is older than the 1960’s, although so far no such record has been found.

This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.

Photo by Matias Garabedian. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Music Used in the Episode

After You Done ItJames BrownAin’t It FunkyKing Records
Why Am I Treated So BadJames BrownThe PopcornKing Records
Move Move MoveAlan Parker, Alan HackshawMusic For A Young GenerationKPM Music
Soul PrideJames BrownThe PopcornKing Records
Girl At The TopAlan Parker, Alan HackshawKPM MusicKPM Music
Who KnowsBeau DollarWho Knows 7″King Records
Volcano VapesSure Fire Soul EnsembleOut On The CoastColemine Records

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