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Overhauling Has Nautical History

In nautical parlance, if you slacken a rope by pulling in the opposite direction to separate the blocks in a block-and-tackle system, you’re said to overhaul it — the inspiration for the more general term that means to “change...

Icebox

Keith in Valparaiso, Indiana, wonders why his mother uses the term icebox for what other people call a refrigerator. Before electric refrigeration, people kept food cold by putting it in a an insulated box that was literally cooled with a block of...

Stereotype Origins and Meaning

While reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Sidney from Indianapolis, Indiana, stumbled across the use of the term stereotyped notice to denote a printed announcement of a meeting. It’s an example of this word’s earliest...

American Crossword Tournament

The finalists at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament wear giant headphones to block out the noise of the crowd and color commentary. As it happens, the white noise being pumped into them is the pre-recorded sound of a United Nations cocktail...

triggerlock

triggerlock  n.— «Demarcus Coley, 29 years of age, of the 12000 block of Tech Ridge in Austin, Tx., charged with possession of a Schedule I narcotic with intent to distribute, criminal conspiracy, and Triggerlock. Triggerlock is a term for...

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