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Looks Like They Stepped Out Of A Bandbox

Susan from Cocker City, Kansas, says her mother used to describe someone who appeared impeccably dressed with the phrase She looked like she stepped out of a bandbox. In the 17th century, the word band could denote a garment collar, sometimes...

A Pain Under the Pinny

Lois in Newfoundland, Canada, asks about the phrase pain in the pinny, meaning “stomach discomfort.” Pain in the pinny, or more commonly pain under the pinny, refers to a pain under one’s pinafore, or apron, the word pinafore...

Pantywaist

If someone’s called a pantywaist, they’re being disparaged as weak or timid. The term refers to a baby garment popular in the early 20th century that snapped at the waist. Some people misunderstand the term as pantywaste, but...

Cabbage as a Verb

Tracy from Sherman, Texas, wonders why her dad always used cabbage as a verb to mean “to pilfer or swipe.” This term goes back to at least the 18th century, when the verb to cabbage had to do with employee theft. Specifically, it...

hot body

hot body  n.— «The reverse kimono dress is what the garment industry calls a hot body, meaning it sells so well that a designer makes it for more than one season, often tweaking it by using a new fabric.» —“Michelle Obama’s...