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A 1930s Hipster

Jerry in Lutherville, Maryland, was reading a 2018 biography of Nelson Algren, author of The Man with the Golden Arm, that mentions a group in the 1930s that were described as hipsters or hepsters. In the 1930s, the word hipster applied to a jazz...

“Zonked,” Meaning Exhausted

Calley from Bowling Green, Kentucky, wonders about the word zonked, meaning “exhausted.” Like the word conk, as in conked out, meaning “fast asleep,” zonk originally had to do with a blow to the head. This is part of a...

Governor Moonbeam

Why is California governor Jerry Brown sometimes called Governor Moonbeam? This ethereal moniker was bestowed by the great Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko to suggest a kind of hippie-dippie, insubstatntial, lack of practicality. This is part...

Names of Age Decades for Old People

Someone in their 70s is septuagenarian, someone in their 80s is an octogenarian, and someone in their 90s is a nonagenarian. Someone in their 50s is a quinquagenarian, and if they’re in their 40s, they’re a quadragenarian. If...

Tattoo Music Exclamation

Rodney in Suffolk, Virginia, is interested in the word tattoo. His grandmother didn’t use it to mean skin art. She used it to rave about seeing a great concert or band: “It was just such a wonderful tattoo!” It might have something to do with a...