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The Given Name “Bornface”

Jonathan in Fall River, Wisconsin, says when he worked in Zambia he met many people named Bornface, supposedly because they were born face-up. In The African Book of Names, Ashkari Johnson Hodari explains that it’s common throughout sub...

Latin Palindrome Riddle

“In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni” is a Latin palindrome doubling as a riddle. It’s variously translated as “We enter the circle at night and are consumed by fire” or “We turn in circles in the night and are...

Cool Your Jets

If you want someone to calm down, you might say “Cool your jets!” This expression is among several catchphrases from a 1950s TV show about the extraterrestrial adventures of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Others include plug your jets...

David Foster Wallace’s Turns of Phrase

David Foster Wallace’s book Infinite Jest includes many unusual turns of phrase, including nose-pore-range for something very close, toadbelly white for a particular shade of the color, howling fantods for the heebie-jeebies, and greebles for...

Since Sookie was a Calf

Gerald from San Diego, California, says his mother, who was from North Carolina, used the phrase since Sookie was a calf to mean for a long time. The words sook and sookie are among many traditionally used to call cows from the pasture. The phrase...