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Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat

The biblical king Jehoshaphat is the inspiration for the exclamation “jumpin’ Jehosaphat!” This alliterative idiom probably arose in the 19th century but was popularized by the cartoon character Yosemite Sam in the 20th century...

Rubber Match

Tight games often end up at a rubber match, or tiebreaker. Used for a variety of sports and card games, rubber match has been in use since the late 16th century, and seem to have originated in the game of lawn bowling. This is part of a complete...

Piggyback

What does a piggyback ride have to do with pigs? Not much. In the 16th century, the word was pickaback, meaning to pitch or throw on one’s back. It’s had dozens of spellings over the past few centuries, but perhaps the word piggy has...

Written Language is Like…

The 19th Century French writer Adolphe de Lamartine said that written language is like a mirror, which it is necessary to have in order that man know himself and be sure that he exists. This is part of a complete episode.

Entrees

Why are main courses called entrees in the US? Why isn’t the entree the first course of a meal? In 19th Century Britain, the entree came after a course of soup or fish, but before the main portion of the meal, such as a boar’s head. Over...

Squiffy and Golden Gut

If you’re feeling squiffy, it means you’re drunk, especially in 19th century British slang. If someone has a golden gut, on the other hand, it means they have good business acumen. This is part of a complete episode.

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