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Waste vs. Spill

If someone spilled a box of paper clips, for example, would you say that they wasted the paper clips, even though the clips could be picked up and re-used? Although most people wouldn’t, this sense of waste meaning “to spill” is...

Non-Relational Aunties

A dancer in the Broadway production of The Lion King says he and his colleagues are curious about the use of the term “Auntie” (pronounced AHN-tee) to refer to an older woman, regardless of whether she’s a blood relative. Auntie is...

Slave vs. Enslaved

The organization Historic Hudson Valley describes the African-American celebration of Pinkster in an exemplary way. It avoids the use of the word slave and instead uses terms such as enslaved people, enslaved Africans, and captives. It’s a...

Spitting Game

The term “spitting game,” meaning “to flirt,” comes from African-American slang going back to at least the 1960’s, when game referred to someone’s hustle. It’s well covered in Randy Kearse’s Street...

Cat Face

Cat face is a cute way to describe something like a piece of fruit or a tree that’s grown in on itself, giving it a puckered kind of indentation. Particularly in the African-American community, it’s used to denote a wrinkle to be ironed...

I Ain’t Lost Nothin’ Over There

The saying, “I ain’t lost nothin’ over there” is a dismissive way to say “Why in the world would I bother going to that place?” A similar version “you ain’t lost nothin’ down there,”...

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