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Colder Than Blitney

Nick in Cincinnati, Ohio, is fond of his Appalachian-born grandmother’s phrase colder than blitney, meaning “extremely cold” or “cold as the dickens.” It’s likely a version of cold as blixen, which has a number of...

Cold as Aggie Forti

Margo from Denton, Texas, says when the weather was really cold, her Kentucky-born grandmother would say it was cold as agga forti. The term aggie forti refers to something really strong, particularly a strong drink. That expression and the variants...

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...

Fever Blister vs. Cold Sore

Rebecca in Austin, Texas, wonders why the terms cold sore and fever blister describe pretty much the same thing. Also, why do we say we have a cold, but we have the flu? The word flu comes from the Italian word for influence, influenza, and is a...

Cold Turkey Origins

When you quit something abruptly, you’re said to quit cold turkey. This expression’s origin is unknown although its earliest recording uses are from 19th-century boxing. This is part of a complete episode.

Insensible Losses

Insensible losses, in the world of medicine, are things your body loses which you simply don’t sense. A prime example is the water vapor you see coming out of your body when you exhale in cold weather, but aren’t aware of when it’s...