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Rare False Friends

You might assume that the Welsh word plant means the same thing it does in English, but this word is a linguistic false friend. The Welsh word plentyn means “child,” and the word plant means “children.” Some false friends are...

Felonious Mule

The 1948 book A Rocket in My Pocket: The Rhymes and Chants of Young Americans includes a funny rhyme about a donkey who mistakes a zebra for a felonious mule. This is part of a complete episode.

Carrot and Stick Origin

Steve in Dennis, Massachusetts, remembers a cartoon that showed a boy trying to persuade a donkey to pull a cart by holding out a carrot suspended from a stick. Is that the origin of the expression carrot and stick? The original metaphor involved...

Polly Wanna Cracker?

A man who owns a parrot says that when people see his bird, they invariably ask the question “Polly wanna cracker?” He wonders about the origin of that psittacine phrase, meaning parrot-like. One of the earliest uses of the phrase so far...

dirt diving

dirt diving  n.— «Tucked away on a long driveway, just after a donkey farm, is Vermont Skydiving Adventures (VSA).…Last Friday, four regulars were “dirt diving,” the term for practicing maneuvers on the ground. They were planning on...