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Origin of Gratuity “Tip”

Like many English words, tip — as in, the gratuity you leave to the waiter or the bellhop — doesn’t originate with an acronym such as To Insure Promptness. This type of tip goes back to the mid-18th century, when thieves would tip, or tap...

Kiss Like a Wet Brick

The Western Folklore Journal of 1976 gives us such romantic phrases as “kisses like a cold fish,” “kisses like your brother through a screen,” and “kisses like a wet brick.” This is part of a complete episode.

Puddin’ Tame or Pudding Tane

“What’s your name?” “I’m Puddin’ Tame, ask me again and I’ll tell you the same!” This and other rhymes, such as “What’s your number? Cucumber!” derive from French, English, and American...


If you behave in a struthonian manner, then it means you’re behaving like an ostrich. This play term comes from struthos, the ancient Greek word for ostrich. Actually, according to the American Ostrich Association, the old belief that an...

Money Cat

What’s a money cat? It’s a regional term for “calico cat,” and it’s particularly common in Maine. The idea goes back to a bit of folklore that calicos bring you good luck. This is part of a complete episode.

Raining Pitchforks

What do you call a fierce rainfall? There are lots of vivid terms in this country besides “it’s raining cats and dogs.” Some Americans say “It’s raining pitchforks and hoe handles,” or “raining pitchforks...

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