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To Go on One Foot and Return on the Other

In Brazil, if you want to talk about going someplace quickly and coming back in a flash, you can use the idiomatic Portuguese phrase ir num pé e voltar no outro, literally “to go on one foot and return on the other.” This is part of a...

Inkle

An inkle is a colorful strip of linen woven on a miniature, portable loom. No one knows the term’s origin, but an old idiomatic expression, thick as inkle-weavers meant “extremely close or intimate.” The idea was that inkle looms...

Oh, For Nice!

Jesse in Gainesville, Florida, says that when he was growing up in Northern Minnesota, he often heard the expression “Oh, for…!”, as in “Oh, for cute!”, “Oh, for nice!”, or “Oh, for dumb!: This...

Enduring Word Choice

A woman whose first language is Persian wonders about the word enduring. Can she describe the work of being a parent as enduring? While the phrase is grammatically correct, the expression enduring parenting is not good idiomatic English. This is...

Under the Weather

When we’re not feeling well, we might say we’re “under the weather.” But then, given that weather happens above our heads, aren’t we always under it? The idiomatic phrase under the weather simply means the...

Season and Sea Change

The first of two podcasts this week includes a special message to A Way with Words podcast listeners. Also, Martha answers a listener’s email about the term sea change. Or is it C change?