David in Austin, Texas, wonders if smithereens, meaning “bits” or “fragments,” as in explode into smithereens, refers to little bits of metal left over from blacksmithing. Actually, the origin of smithereen is uncertain, although it may come from Irish English or Irish Gaelic, but no one’s really sure. It may be related to smithers which also means “small pieces.” A similar-sounding word, shivereens, comes from shiver, meaning “splinter” or “fragment.” This is part of a complete episode.

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