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Close But No Tomato

Lucy, a middle-school student in San Diego, California, is puzzled by a phrase her mother uses when something is not quite up to snuff or falls short of the mark: close, but no tomato. It appears to be a variant of close, but no cigar, a phrase...

joint

joint  n.— Note: The Historical Dictionary of American Slang dates this use of “joint” meaning “a carnival booth or concession” to 1894. «Dodson joined the Louisiana fair Wednesday.…Before working the games...

whining

whining  n.— «St Lucians usually only need the sound of two sticks beating together to start “whining”—around here that’s patois for “shakin’ your booty.”» —“Cricket carnival can’t cajole Castries” by Chris...

vomit comet

vomit comet  n.— «Chris had just ridden the new roller coaster four times in a row, but he insisted he was still seeing things straight. The coaster is part of perhaps the park’s weirdest section of all, called Paradise Pier. It’s a...

pickled punk

pickled punk  n.— «I found out that in early-to-mid-20th century America, stillborn babies and aborted human fetuses, placed in glass jars full of formaldehyde, were a profitable business. The life of the unborn was protected by law...

soft-seat show

soft-seat show  n.— «Aside from the annual Carnival of Cultures and the occasional soft-seat show, performers tend to play mostly ethnic community centres.» —“Here’s the world for ya” by Patrick Langston Ottawa...