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Put A Little Irish in Your English

The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary recently added several Irish English terms. One of them is segotia, which means “friend.” There’s an entry for this word, also spelled segocia, in Grant’s own book, The Official...

Taking a Possible Bath

Mary in Laramie, Wyoming, says her mother used to speak of taking a possible bath, meaning washing up using water from the sink instead of taking a bath or a shower. The idea is that you wash up as far as possible, then down as far as possible, and...

Box and Cox

To play Box and Cox means to participate in an arrangement in which you and someone else take turns occupying the same space at different times. This British expression derives from Box and Cox (Bookshop|Amazon), an 1847 farce by John Maddison...

Where in the Blazes am I?

When James from Waco, Texas, was lost while hiking, he wondered Where in the blazes am I?, then wondered about the origin of that expression. It doesn’t derive from blaze meaning “to cut into a tree to mark a trail.” That term...

Two Kinds of “Fell”

Caroline calls from Clinch Mountain, Tennessee, to ask about two puzzling uses of the word fell, and not as in the past tense of fall. In books by J.R.R. Tolkien, she’s seen fell used as an adjective meaning “dreadful” or...