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How the Cow Ate the Cabbage

Jane in Austin, Texas, is curious about the expression how the cow ate the cabbage, meaning to give someone a talking-to. This is part of a complete episode.


The phrase “don’t cabbage that,” meaning “don’t steal that,” may derive from the old practice of tailors’ employees taking scraps of leftover fabric, which, gathered up in one’s hands, could resemble a...

Eat the Grindstone

The books we love as children may influence our careers more than we realize. As a child, Martha was fascinated with stories of cracking codes, and Grant loved books with glossaries–not that far from the kind of work they do today. A caller...

Don’t Chew Cabbage Twice

The saying “I don’t chew my cabbage twice,” means I’m not going to repeat myself. The ancient Romans, by the way, ate cabbage as a protection against hangovers, but detested the smell of twice-cooked cabbage. This is part of...

Not as Green as Cabbage-Looking

An old expression from Yorkshire: I’m not as green as I am cabbage-looking, meaning, “I may look new to this, but I’m not.” This is part of a complete episode.

Cabbage as a Verb

Tracy from Sherman, Texas, wonders why her dad always used cabbage as a verb to mean “to pilfer or swipe.” This term goes back to at least the 18th century, when the verb to cabbage had to do with employee theft. Specifically, it...

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