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Etymology of Mince

What do we mean by the expression “not to mince words”? The New York Times’ Paul Krugman often uses this idiom meaning “to be straightforward and blunt.” The verb mince means “to make small,” and is a...

Stoved Fingers

In an earlier episode, we discussed various meanings for the term stove up. One meaning of stove up is “to be in pain from work or exercise to the point where it’s hard to move.” Similarly, lots of athletes will get stoved fingers...

Raining Cats and Dogs

Get out your umbrellas — it’s raining pitchforks and … bullfrogs? This week, it’s odd expressions that mean “a heavy downpour.” Also, holistic vs. wholistic, recurrence vs. reoccurrence, flash drive vs. thumb drive...

Pimping Med Students

Pimping med students is a common practice in hospitals. But not that kind of pimping; the term pimp, possibly from the German pumpfrage, meaning “pump question,” refers to the method of tough quizzing that doctors put their young...

Gazump

What does it mean to gazump someone? This phrase, specifically meaning “to swindle a customer in a real estate deal,” came about in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s before disappearing and then popping up again in England in the...

Taking Umbrage

To take umbrage means to take offense or be annoyed at something. It comes from the Latin umbra, meaning “shadow,” as in umbrella. So to take umbrage is to sense something shady, or suspect that one has been slighted. This is part of a...