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Hang for a Sheep

Rick calls from Rouses Point, New York, to ask about the etymology of the phrase to hang for a sheep as for a lamb, meaning to go for broke or to go all out. The answer involves the old tradition of capital punishment for poaching animals. Given the...

Jeezum Pete and Related Expressions

Ellen in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, wonders about the origin of the exclamation jeezum pete! It’s a minced oath — that is, a way of avoiding saying “Jesus Christ!” most likely derived by combining it with St. Pete. There are dozens...

VCCV Brain Stretcher

Crossword-puzzle constructors often employ words with a vowel-consonant-consonant-vowel pattern, or VCCV. That’s the cruciverbal inspiration Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s VCCV puzzle. For example, if the clue is teen woe, what’s the...

Trolls and Trolling

Harry from Falls Church, Virginia, wonders about the many meanings and uses of the words troll and trolling. This is part of a complete episode.

Pat and Charlie Folktale

There’s a story in the African-American folktale tradition about two tired mules named Pat and Charlie. Here’s a version from American Negro Folktales by Richard Dorson. This is part of a complete episode.

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