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Salting the Earth vs. Salt of the Earth

The phrase salt of the earth describes someone who is essential and pure of heart, a reference to the biblical Sermon on the Mount. To salt the earth usually means to render the ground useless, whether metaphorically or literally. This is part of a...

Cherry Bumps on a Swing

Jean in Thetford, Vermont, remembers using the term cherry bump to refer to that moment when part of a backyard swingset leaves the ground for a moment, then lands with a thump. Another term for it is cherry bomb, which can also be used for a...

Diamond in the Rough

What’s the meaning of the phrase diamond in the rough? Does it refer to a rose among thorns, to unrealized potential? The phrase derives from the diamond industry, where a diamond in the rough is one taken from the ground but still unpolished...

Deli Meat Sloppy Joe

A listener from northern New Jersey says that in his part of the state, a sloppy joe was not the mashed-up ground beef sandwich many of us also know as a loose meat sandwich, spoonburger, or tavern. For him, a sloppy joe was a deli meat sandwich...

Etymology of Pebble Picker

In baseball, a pebble picker, or pebble hunter, is a fielder who picks up a pebble from the ground after a missed catch, as if to blame the pebble for his own error. In the world at large, the term is a jab at someone who can never admit a mistake...