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So Mad I Could Spit Nickels

Juice in Genoa, New York, remembers her mother used to say I am so mad I could spit nickels. It’s one of several variations on the idea of being angry enough to spit, period, or to spit something specific, such as spit tacks, spit nails, spit...

Cornswoggled and Hornswoggled

Margaret from Dallas, Texas, wonders about a word that both her grandfather and mother use: cornswoggled. It means “confused.” Cornswoggled is a variation of hornswoggled or hornswaggled, which originally meant “to be...

What Kind of Party is a “Bacon Bat”?

Sandy from Richmond, Virginia, says her mother would fondly recall the bacon bats she participated in while a student at Smith College. A bacon bat was a festive outdoor picnic that featured bacon and other savory treats cooked over an open fire...

Stop Wooling Me!

Tabitha from Palmer, Alaska, remembers her mother used to exclaim Stop wooling me!, a phrase used in parts of Appalachia, the Southeast US, and the Ozarks to mean “stop bothering me,” “stop roughhousing,” or “stop...

A Trick with a Hole in It

Theora from Hinesburg, Vermont, has long puzzled over something her mother used to say when they were making something together: Would you like me to show you a little trick with a hole in it? By that, her mother apparently meant that she could show...

A Rig and a Half

Karen in Memphis, Tennessee, says that when she looks disheveled or otherwise unfashionable, her Canadian mother says that she looks like a rig and a half. In Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and Labrador, Canada, the word rig means “an eccentric...