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Kick Over the Traces

The word traces denotes the long, thin leather straps that secure a horse to a wagon. The expression to kick over the traces, meaning “to become unruly,” refers to the action of a horse literally kicking over those straps and getting all...

Who Decides What’s Good English?

Is there an English language authority like the Real Academia Española or the Academie Française? Dictionaries often have usage panels made up of expert linguists, but English is widely agreed to be a constantly shifting language. Even in France and...

Grant’s Dictionary Recommendations

If you’re looking for dictionary recommendations, you’ve tuned to the right program! For comprehensive, desk-dwelling dictionaries, Grant likes the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 6th Edition, a two-volume set, and the brand-new...

Yankee Dimes in a Culch Pile

Howdy! In this week’s episode of “A Way with Words,” we have a whole culch pile of conversation about Yankee dimes, hanging crepe, educational rubrics, and whether the language you speak influences how you think. Here ’tis:...

sneak and peek

sneak and peek  attrib.— «Senator Russ Feingold disclosed figures showing the Justice Department used PATRIOT Act authority to request hundreds of so-called “sneak and peek” warrants authorizing secret break-ins into US homes and...