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A Millionaire’s Family

In another episode, we discussed pigeon pair, or “a daughter and son,” an allusion to the old belief that pigeons and doves always have two chicks, one of each sex. A millionaire’s family or a million-dollar family is “a...

Amen, Brother Ben!

Angel says her grandfather, who was from Manning, South Carolina, was a pastor who used to repeat the phrase Amen, Brother Ben, shot a rooster, killed a hen. This expression can express affirmation, and can also serve as a quick, joking way to say...

Darwin Quote on Living Well

In The Autobiography of Charles Darwin (Bookshop|Amazon), the great scientist writes, “If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.” This is part of...

Seen the Elephant and Heard the Owl

Christine in Santa Cruz, California, says her well-traveled father always used the phrase I’ve seen the elephant and heard the owl to mean “I’m not easily deceived” or “You can’t pull the wool over my eyes.”...

What are Good Terms for Old People?

Mary in Alexandria, Virginia, wonders when words like senior and senior citizen came to mean “elderly.” Senior comes from Latin senex, “old,” the source also of Senate and senile. In the 1930s, a politician helped popularize...