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Down to the Lick Log

If you’re “down to the lick log,” you’re close to the end of negotiations, or nearing some kind of decision. This expression is associated with cattle ranching, a salt lick being a place where the herd congregates. The 19th...

Annie Oakley Comp Tickets

Do you refer to complimentary tickets to an event as Annie Oakleys? Or deadwoods, perhaps? The term Annie Oakley supposedly comes from a punched ticket’s resemblance to bullet-riddled cards from the sharpshooter’s Wild West shows...


A cowboy loves a ranch that’s pecorous, meaning abundant with cattle. Just something worth knowing. This is part of a complete episode.

Boo-Boo the Fool

Who is Boo-Boo the Fool? A listener wonders if this African-American character has any relation the Puerto Rican fool, Juan Bobo. Martha draws a connection to the Spanish term bobo, meaning “fool,” and its Latin root balbus, meaning...


Buckaroo is an English word adapted from the Spanish word vaquero, meaning “cowboy.” Is there a specific term for the linguistic process whereby such words are adapted into English? This is part of a complete episode.