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Names for the Milky Way

Look up into the night sky, and imagine that you’ve never heard the term Milky Way. What would you call that glowing band of stars across the heavens? In Sweden, it’s called Vintergatan, or “Winter Street.” In Hawaii, the...

Devil Strip

Terry, a native of Akron, Ohio, is curious why it seems no one outside of his hometown uses the term devil strip to mean “the narrow band of grass between sidewalk and street.” Devil strip was formerly used this way in a few other...

“Beat the Band” Meaning and Origin

Whitney from Memphis, Tennessee, is curious about the origin of the phrase to beat the band, which describes something happening in forceful or energetic way. Although the origins of this Americanism are murky, it may refer to a time when every...

“Shingles” Comes from Latin

The painful condition called shingles takes its name from Latin cingulum, meaning belt, because the inflammation often appears as a belt-like band around the torso. The Latin root of cingulum, cingere, meaning to gird, is also the source of cinch, a...

Bejesus

Brian in Church Hill, Tennessee, had a band called Smackin’ Bejeebus. The latter word, more commonly rendered as bejesus, bejeezus, or bejaysus (the latter especially among the Irish), is a mild oath that euphemizes the name Jesus often used...

How to Pronounce Homage

The punk band Sacred Cash Cow in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, is planning a tribute to another local band that’s breaking up, so they called to ask how to pronounce homage. Usually, if you’re paying homage to something (using the...