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“How Are You?” is Sometimes More Than a Question

A native Dutch speaker who spent many years in Japan says he had to learn the hard way that when Americans greeted him with How are you?, they didn’t really want to know how he was. Such casual greetings that don’t require a factual or...

Take a Licking and Get Your Licks in

Paul in Camden, Maine, has adopted a new pup, and the dog’s exuberant face-licking has Paul wondering about the many meanings of the word lick, which include getting his licks in and takes a licking, which refers to the act of forcefully...

The Lowdown Meaning and Origin

Bobbie in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, wonders about the expression What’s the lowdown?, meaning “What’s happening?” Lowdown, meaning “the skinny,” “the scoop,” or “the details” originated in...

Mallorca’s Flag Pun

Fans of vexillology, the study of flags, know that the town of Manacor on the island of Mallorca has a municipal flag that features a visual pun on its name. It’s a drawing of a hand holding a heart, inspired by the Catalan words mà, meaning...

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