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Off Like a Dirty Shirt

“We’re off like a dirty shirt” indicates the speaker is “leaving right away” or “commencing immediately.” Similar phrases include “off like a prom dress” and “off like a bride’s...

Root, Little pig, or Die

A St. Petersburg, Florida, listener says when she used to ask her mother what was for dinner, her mom’s answer was often “root, little pig, or die,” meaning “You’ll have to fend for yourself.” The more common...

Auntie

Many listeners responded to our conversation about the use of the term auntie to refer to an older woman who is not a blood relative. It turns out that throughout much of Africa, Asia, as well as among Native Americans, the word auntie, or its...

Just Can’t Gee-Haw

When two people can’t gee-haw together, it means they don’t get along. The terms gee-haw, or gee and haw, come from farming, where a trained animal obeys a command to go left or right–to gee or haw, in other words. Noncompliant...

Since Hector was a Pup

Hector’s pup, or since Hector was a pup, is another way to say, “Oh, heck.” The expressions go back to the early 1900’s, when people were perhaps more familiar with the character of Hector from The Iliad. This is part of a...

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