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Left in the Lurch

A restaurant manager in Kokomo, Indiana, had an employee who failed to show up for work. This left him wondering about the phrase left in the lurch. It probably derives from an old game similar to backgammon called lourche, the object of which is to...

Episode 1557

Sock it to Me

In the 15th century, the word respair meant “to have hope again.” Although this word fell out of use, it’s among dozens collected in a new book of soothing vocabulary for troubled times. Plus, baseball slang: If a batter...

California Language

It’s a brand-new season of A Way with Words! Grant has big news, too: He’s used up his last Metrocard, packed up his belongings, and moved to the Left Coast. He reports on some features of California language there that are already...

.5 generation

.5 generation  n.— «Sociologists call Mr. Singh and his cohort the “.5 generation,” distinct from the “1.5 generation”—younger transplants who became bicultural through school and work. Immigrant elders leave a familiar home, some without...

Taliban union

Taliban union  n.— «The speculation follows much earlier talk that the “Taliban Unions” (as the extreme left unions are affectionately known by more moderate industrial organisations) would be looking to behead Boydy at the earliest...

drop a pickle

drop a pickle  v. phr.— «He got his nickname, “Split,” when he went to a party shortly after his wife gave birth to their first child. Dropping a bomb and having a child are both referred to as “dropping a pickle”...