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Sailing Slang and Jargon

After hanging out with San Diego sailing enthusiasts, Martha picked up several bits of slang and jargon. Catenary describes the desirable curve of an anchor chain, from Latin catena, meaning “chain.” A chain that is not pulled up...

The Coast is Clear

A woman in Vancouver, Washington, wants to know the origin of the phrase the coast is clear, meaning “it’s safe to proceed.” It most likely has to do with a literal coast, whether from the perspective of a ship at sea or guards...

The Wreck of Hesperus

Someone who “looks like the wreck of Hesperus” isn’t exactly looking their best. The idiom comes from a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, inspired by an 1839 blizzard off the coast of Massachusetts that destroyed 20 ships. This is...

Phone Book Nicknames

Who uses the phone book these days, right? The people of Norfolk Island off the coast of Australia do! And not only are their names printed, but so are their nicknames. If you’re looking to call Carrots, Lettuce Leaf, Moose, Diesel, or Hose...

skuke

skuke  n.— «In this little town on the south coast, people like me — summer folk — are known as skukes. I’ve never met anyone who knows the real derivation of the term, but it’s not a compliment. Skukes are annoying because...