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It’s the Pits, but What are the Pits?

Miranda, a nurse in Altoona, Pennsylvania, had a patient who described her hospital food as the pits, meaning it wasn’t good. The expressions the pits and in the pits arose out of 1950s college slang, and derive from the notion of smelly...

Waffle Cornflake And Other Family Words

A listener emails to say that her nonagenarian mother adopted a special project during the pandemic. She compiled a lexicon of words and phrases used by their family when the kids were growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. The resulting 33-page...

Cool Your Jets

If you want someone to calm down, you might say “Cool your jets!” This expression is among several catchphrases from a 1950s TV show about the extraterrestrial adventures of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Others include plug your jets...

Strong Like Bull

A woman in Fairbanks, Alaska, says she’s been described as strong like ox, smart like streetcar. Is that a compliment? Other variations include strong like bull and smart like tractor or smart like dump truck. The phrase strong like bull was...