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Haven’t Grown Gills Yet

Kamela works as a nurse in Anchorage, Alaska. When she asked a patient how how he was doing post-surgery, the man responded with Well, I haven’t grown gills yet. It’s a jocular way of acknowledging that although he hadn’t recovered...

Stop Wooling Me!

Tabitha from Palmer, Alaska, remembers her mother used to exclaim Stop wooling me!, a phrase used in parts of Appalachia, the Southeast US, and the Ozarks to mean “stop bothering me,” “stop roughhousing,” or “stop...

Northwest Word Skookum

The adjective skookum comes from Chinook jargon and is commonly used in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to describe something strong, good, muscular, or powerful, as in a skookum Malamute or a skookum drink.  This is part of a complete episode.

Shoelace Express

Sarah in Fairbanks, Alaska, has a term to add to our discussion about colloquial terms for traveling on foot, like shank’s mare, chevrolegs, and getting a ride with Pat and Charlie: taking the shoelace express. This is part of a complete...

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...

Gee and Haw in Dog-Sledding

In dogsledding, the exclamations gee and haw are used for left and right respectively. A woman in Fairbanks, Alaska, uses those terms when training her dogs for the Iditarod and wonders about their origin. (As promised, here are her pups.) This is...