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When “Evening” Means “Afternoon”

Joan grew up in Yorkshire, England, then moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. There she was surprised to hear some people use the term evening instead of afternoon to refer to “the period between noon and 5 p.m.” The word evening is used...

Crazy as a Betsy Bug or Bedbug

Jane in Tippecanoe, Indiana, was intrigued by a phrase she encountered while reading Kinky Friedman’s Armadillos and Old Lace. (Bookshop|Amazon). She remembers hearing the phrase crazy as a bedbug, and wonders about Friedman’s use of the...

Taking a Possible Bath

Mary in Laramie, Wyoming, says her mother used to speak of taking a possible bath, meaning washing up using water from the sink instead of taking a bath or a shower. The idea is that you wash up as far as possible, then down as far as possible, and...

Episode 1586

Mittens in Moonlight

Need a slang term that can replace just about anynoun? Try chumpie. If you’re from Philadelphia, you may already know this handy placeholder word. And there’s Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, and … The Bronx — why do we add...

Noisy As A Falling Cookstove

In 1936, Carl Sandburg published The People, Yes (Bookshop|Amazon) a 300-page poem in book form that celebrates the folklore, language, and spirit of his fellow Americans. In one passage, Sandburg vividly describes various kinds of audiences: Some...