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Gauming Around

When Matt was growing up in western North Carolina, he heard the word gaum, also spelled gom, meaning a mess. Someone misbehaving might be described as gauming around, or something was gaumed up, meaning messed up, or a person was dismissed as...

The Source of the Pirate’s “Arrr!”

A chance encounter with University of California San Diego professor of history Mark Hanna, author of Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740, leads to a discussion of how the saying “arrr!” came to be associated with...

Bobbery

The term bobbery means a noisy disturbance or hubub. The word’s origin is disputed, although one explanation is that it comes from the Hindi exclamation “Bap re!” or literally, “Oh father!” This is part of a complete...

Butterflies in Your Stomach

If you’re not using a dictionary to look up puzzling words as you read them, you’re missing out on a whole other level of enjoyment. • When you’re cleaning house, why not clean like there’s literally no tomorrow? The term...

Oh My Stars and Garters

The exclamation “Oh my stars and garters!” likely arose from a reference to the British Order of the Garter. The award for this highest level of knighthood includes an elaborate medal in the shape of a star. The expression was probably...

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