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As Long as Pat Stayed in the Army

Haddie from Houston, Texas, is curious about the phrase as long as Pat stayed in the Army, which applies to something short-lived. The phrase appears in Kentucky newspapers as early as 1898. No one’s sure who Pat was, although perhaps...

Fancy-Schmancy and Other Schm Reduplications

When Julia emigrated to New York City from the Dominican Republic, she noticed that her Jewish friends on Long Island often playfully altered words, repeating a word and adding an SHM sound, such as changing deserve to deserve, schmeserve and cool...

Long Shot vs. Long Chalk

Peter from Camden, New Jersey, wonders about the phrases not by a long chalk and not by a long shot. The former is used in the United Kingdom, while the latter is commonly used in the United States. Both suggest the idea of missing a mark by a...

Visiting With One Arm Long Than the Other

Maggie in Spring Valley, New York, recalls her father’s advice: Don’t go visiting with one arm longer than the other. He meant “Don’t arrive as a guest empty-handed.” The original expression appears to come from...

How Long Has “It’s a Thing” Been a Thing?

Victoria in Madison, Wisconsin, is curious about saying something is a thing, meaning that a particular phenomenon exists or is genuine. This phrase has been around since at least the time of Jane Austen, who used it in Pride and Prejudice. Other...

Long John Donuts

Max from Sacramento, California, is curious about why the long, frosted doughnut with no filling that he grew up calling a long john goes by so many other names, including longie, bar doughnut, chocolate bar, maple bar, and maple stick. Food names...

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