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Mess and Gaum

Marcus in Kingsport, Tennessee, says that as children, if he and his sister left snacks or crumbs around the kitchen, his mother would say in exasperation that all the kids ever wanted to do was to mess and gaum. The word gaum means “a greasy...

Don’t Get Into Any Jackpots

Ron, who lives in North Pole, Alaska, is curious about an admonition from his mother: Don’t get into any jackpots. This expression, which dates back to the 1800s, refers to getting trapped into adding bets to a round of high-stakes poker...

Auntie Word Quiz

Quiz Guy John Chaneski invites us to a party to meet all of his dear “aunties” — as in the “auntie” who makes sure your oily hair doesn’t mess up the furniture. This is part of a complete episode.

Southern Expression “Hot Mess”

The term hot mess refers to someone whose life is chaotic or otherwise somewhat dysfunctional. Heard primarily in the South, hot mess is often used affectionately, suggesting that the person is attractive despite the messiness of their life. This is...

A Southern Mess

In parts of the South, according to the Dictionary of American Regional English, the word mess can denote “a witty, clever, or mischievous person.” This is part of a complete episode.

Pandora’s Box vs. A Can of Worms

What’s the difference between Pandora’s box and a can of worms? In Greek myth, the contents of the fateful box belonging to Pandora (literally, “all gifts” in ancient Greek) were a mystery. With a can of worms, on the other...