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Laurels as an Honor

To garner the laurels, meaning “to collect praise” refers to the ancient practice of awarding crowns of bay laurel leaves to victors in competitions. This tradition of honoring distinction with such a wreath is reflected in the terms...

To High-Hat Someone

Cindy in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is going through her mother’s diary from the 1930’s and finds the term high-hat used as a transitive verb. To high-hat someone means to act in a supercilious, condescending, affected manner, as if...

The Knitted Hat Survey

Tuque, a primarily Canadian name for a warm knit hat, is related to the French word toque, the tall white hat that chefs wear. Take our Great Knitted Hat Survey and tell us what you call them. This is part of a complete episode.

Balaclava

Would you be intimidated if someone tried to rob you while wearing a balaclava? What about a ski mask? Trick question: they’re the same thing! The head covering recently made popular in the Pussy Riot protests is known as a balaclava. The name...

Rest On Your Laurels

If you’ve accomplished something, go ahead and rest on your laurels. Martha traces this idiom back to Ancient Greece, where victors were crowned with a wreath of bay leaves from the bay laurel tree. In the 16th Century, to retire on...

Odder Than Dick’s Hatband

“Well, that was odder than Dick’s hatband!” A caller says his mother always used that term. Now he wants to know: Who was Dick? And what was so odd about his headwear? This is part of a complete episode.