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O’Clock Quiz

Quiz Guy John Chaneski is pondering the term o’clock, which is a shortening of the phrase of the clock. What would our language be like if we used that construction all of the time, or as he puts it, all o’time? For example, what similarly...

Wish-cycling

Recycling companies discourage what they call wish-cycling. That’s when people err on the side of tossing a questionable item in the recycling bin, like a foil lid from a cup of yogurt or some other material that they hope is recyclable. Those...

All Wool and a Yard Wide

All wool and a yard wide means “reliable and trustworthy.” The phrase was part of advertisements in the late 19th century, touting material produced by textile mills that wasn’t shoddy, which meant it was not made from the shredded...

Etymology of Canvassing

The word “canvassing,” as in, going door-to-door passing out political information, has an obscure etymology. It’s thought to be related to the use of canvas material either for sifting things out or tossing someone in the air...

Wide-Awake Hats

Those soft felt hats that folks like the guy on the Quaker oatmeal box wear? They’re called wide-awakes. The etymology of this term is actually a pun–a reference to the fact that they’re made out of smooth material that has no nap...

ghost shift

ghost shift  n.— «Very low serial numbers, like very low MAC ID addresses, are a hallmark of the “ghost shift,” i.e. the shift that happens very late at night when a rogue worker enters the factory and runs the production machine off...

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