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Is There a Tail in Telltale Sign?

Ten-year-old Alex, from Oceanside, California, wonders if a cat’s flicking tail inspired the expression telltale sign, meaning “an indicator.” The word is telltale, not its soundalike telltail. About 400 years ago, a telltale was a...

bike beak

bike beak  n.—Gloss: A frame for carrying bicycles on a motor vehicle. «I had the MTB/Commuter on the bike beak this weekend along with my wife’s bike. I’ve done it plenty of times before but this time, my right front pannier was too close...

rodeoing

rodeoing  n.— «The conservation officer indicated “rodeoing,” the term used to describe the use of motor vehicles to chase or keep deer moving, does not seem to be as big a problem as it used to be in the immediate area...

phone boot

phone boot  n.—Gloss: An informal location for recharging a cell phone or paying to place a phone call on another person’s phone. Note: A play on “phone booth” and “boot,” the rear storage compartment of a motor...

clean scanning

clean scanning  n.— «Over the last year, a joint investigation of emissions inspection stations by the Attorney General’s Office and MassDEP, in coordination with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, found these stations were issuing passing...

auto fraudo

auto fraudo  n.— «Democrats passed the Motor Voter law in 1993 (in the meeting I started hearing the old Republican name for it, “auto fraudo”), which permanently loosened the rules on mailed-in voter registration.» —“Been...