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Origin of Kick the Bucket

The idiom “kick the bucket,” meaning to die, does not originate from the concept of kicking a bucket out from under one’s feet. It has to do with an older meaning of bucket that refers to the wooden beam often found in a barn roof...

The Wreck of Hesperus

Someone who “looks like the wreck of Hesperus” isn’t exactly looking their best. The idiom comes from a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, inspired by an 1839 blizzard off the coast of Massachusetts that destroyed 20 ships. This is...

To Beat the Band

“Beat the band,” as in, “it’s snowing to beat the band,” or “he’s dressed to beat the band,” is an idiom that’s mainly used as a positive intensifier. It evolved from “shouting to beat the...

Dust Bunnies

Is it cheating to say you’ve read a book if you only listened to it on tape? Over the centuries, the way we think about reading has changed a lot. There was a time, for example, when reading silently was considered strange. Plus, what do you...

Bingo Fuel

“If you come to a fork in the road… take it!” Baseball legend Yogi Berra was famous for such head-scratching observations. What most people don’t realize, though, is that the former Yankees star often wasn’t the first...

Cultural Idiom Variations

The idiom “two heads are better than one” doesn’t exist in quite the same form in Spanish, but there is a variation that translates to, “four eyes are better than two.” In Hungarian, there’s a phrase that’s...

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