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Seen the Elephant and Heard the Owl

Christine in Santa Cruz, California, says her well-traveled father always used the phrase I’ve seen the elephant and heard the owl to mean “I’m not easily deceived” or “You can’t pull the wool over my eyes.”...

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...

Prepone: Put Before

Aru in Omaha, Nebraska, says friends and colleagues tease him about his use of prepone, usually used to mean “move an appointment to an earlier date or time.” It’s a word commonly used in Indian English, is morphologically sound, and...

Colorful Expressions from San Diego

If you need a variation on the phrase “son of gun,” there’s always “son of a who cut your hair last.” It’s one of several colorful expressions that a San Diego listener’s great aunt used. Others include...

Wine Whale

If a waiter marks your date as a WW, you know you’re in for a special bottle of wine. The wine whales, as they’re called, take their name from the Vegas whale: those folks who play big at the tables, to the tune of hundreds of thousands...