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Not Only Gertrude, but Mabel, Too

Our conversation about women who use the nicknames Gertie or Gert as jokingly affectionate terms for each other, prompted a listener in Melbourne, Australia, to speculate that it’s a nod to Gertrude Lawrence, an English performer who rose to...

Why Doesn’t a Surgeon Surge?

If an operator operates, why doesn’t a surgeon surge? The word surgeon comes from ancient Greek cheir, which means “hand,” and ergon, “work,” surgery being a kind of medical treatment done by hand, rather than the work...

coconut telegraph

coconut telegraph  n.— «SSB networks are simply an organized meeting place on a particular radio frequency at an established time, where an unlimited number of boaters can meet and share the latest weather forecasts and local news. Nets...

cooping

cooping  n.— «In the end, Officer Bacon, Shield No. 1627, accidentally locked himself in the back seat of a patrol car while napping—known as “cooping”—during an overnight security shift at 1 Police Plaza. The 911 operator he called for...

spud

spud  n.— «When working in deep water, the hull of the dredge is held in place by two forward spuds (large steel poles) and one aft spud. Each of these spuds has “power down” capability. Using the spud’s winch system, the...

red mushroom

red mushroom  n.— «A preliminary investigation also found that the train’s braking system was not defective and that the operator did not press the “red mushroom”—Muni parlance for the bright red button on the operator’s...

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