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Pine Shatters

Chris calls from Nassawadox, Virginia, to say that on their second date his girlfriend used the term pine shadows for what he calls pine needles. Particularly in Virginia, the terms pine shadows and pine shatters denote those long thin leaves that...

A Can of Corn in Baseball

A longtime baseball umpire wonders why the slang phrase can of corn refers to “an easily caught pop fly ball.” Another term for “a high fly ball” is rainmaker, suggesting that the ball goes up so far that it’s capable...

Light a Shuck

Light a shuck means “to skedaddle” or “leave quickly,” and is often found in cowboy literature. It’s a reference to moving quickly while using a burning corn shuck to light one’s way, and may also be influenced by...

JoJo Potato Wedges

When Melissa was growing up in Tacoma, Washington, she’d walk to the corner store, where she’d pick up a corn dog and a bag of jo jos, a term for soft potato wedges with the skin left on. Researcher Barry Popik has dug up a story that...

Tick-Tacking and Other Pranks

Monica says that generations of children in her Augusta, Kentucky, neighborhood would go tick-tacking, or playing pranks during the nights leading up to Halloween — soaping car windows, tossing corn kernels onto front porches, leaving flaming paper...