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How Do You Pronounce “Brooch”?

A New York Times article about that trendy accessory, the brooch, prompts a question: How do you pronounce brooch? Does it rhyme with pooch or coach? It’s more commonly pronounced to rhyme with coach, although some dictionaries do countenance...

Salt-and-Pepper Cellar

The -cellar in saltcellar derives from an Old French word meaning “salt box,” and is etymologically related to the word salt itself. A caller from India says she grew up with the expression salt-and-pepper cellar, and it turns out...

Foreign Word Origins

A Panama City, Florida, caller wants to know the origin of kowtow, as in “to agree in an excessively eager or annoying way.” Kowtow comes from a Chinese term that means “to bow extremely low out of respect,” from words that...

pissdale

pissdale  n.— «Pissdale. Compound word for a place on deck where the crew formerly “went”; a special scupper for that purpose. “Piss” is an Old French word, originally not offensive; “dale” is from Old...