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Taken to Raise

A listener reports being puzzled by a phrase she heard from a woman for whom she’d done a small favor: Did you think you’d taken me to raise? Heard mainly in Kentucky and Ohio, this phrase is a joking suggestion that the person who has...

Pronunciation of Gerrymander

A listener in New York City wonders about how to pronounce gerrymander, which means “to redraw the lines of an electoral district so as to favor a particular political party.” The term comes a joking reference to Massachusetts governor...

Annie Oakley Comp Tickets

Do you refer to complimentary tickets to an event as Annie Oakleys? Or deadwoods, perhaps? The term Annie Oakley supposedly comes from a punched ticket’s resemblance to bullet-riddled cards from the sharpshooter’s Wild West shows...

I Don’t Cotton To

A listener from Dallas wonders about the origin of “I don’t cotton to,” meaning “I’m not in favor of” or “I don’t get along with.” Though it sounds like a classic Southern phrase, Martha traces...

Serial Commas

Martha argues in favor of the serial comma, citing a recent newspaper caption: “The documentary was filmed over three years. Among those interviewed were his ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.” How’s that again? This...

MobMov

MobMov  n.— «Guerrilla drive-ins or “MobMovs”—shorthand for mobile movies—are popping up around the country in a variety of configurations. Unlike Young’s old-school use of real film, guerrilla drive-ins typically eschew the...