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Mustard On It

When does a word’s past make it too sensitive to use in the present? In contra dancing, there’s a particular move that dancers traditionally call a gypsy. But there’s a growing recognition that many people find the term gypsy...

Sneeze-Horn

Need a synonym for “nose”? Try this handy word from a 1904 dialect dictionary: sneeze-horn. This is part of a complete episode.

I’ll Be Your Boo

If you’re nibbling on slippery Jims or sipping sweet soup, chances are you’re in the Badger State. It’s the language of Wisconsin — explained at last. Also, the famous abolitionist whose name became an exclamation, and how to...

Month of Sundays

If you’re on tenterhooks, it means you’re in a state of anxious anticipation or suspense. But what IS a tenterhook? The answer goes back to a 15th-century manufacturing process. Also, you probably have a term for those crumbs that...

The Honey Spring

A 1904 dialect collection tipped us off to this variation on the idea of going to the land of milk and honey: “Going to find the honey spring and the flitter tree,” flitter being a variant of fritter, as in something fried and delicious...

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