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Episode 1586

Mittens in Moonlight

Need a slang term that can replace just about any noun? Try chumpie. If you’re from Philadelphia, you may already know this handy placeholder word. And there’s Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, and … The Bronx — why do we add...

Chumpie, A Multipurpose Philadelphia Word

Alvin in Huntsville, Alabama, is a fan of the multipurpose noun chumpie, which he learned from a native Philadelphian. He remembers hearing it on the television show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when actor Will Smith, who is originally from...

Origin of the “Big Mahoff”

Doug in Madison, Wisconsin, remembers that when he was growing up in Philadelphia, his dad used the phrase the big mahoff to refer to someone important. This term that means “the big boss” or “the big cheese,” is largely...

Episode 1512

Bottled Sunshine

If you catch your blue jeans on a nail, you may find yourself with a winklehawk. This term, adapted into English from Dutch, means “an L-shaped tear in a piece of fabric.” And: What’s your relationship with the books on your...

Kick Out of Bed for Eating Crackers

David from Trophy Club, Texas, wonders about the phrase “I wouldn’t kick them out of bed for eating crackers.” This jocular expression has been around since the early 1940s, and indicates that someone is so lovable they could do...

The Apple of Your Eye

Pepper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wonders why something valuable to someone is called the apple of their eye. The expression apple of one’s eye dates back to the ninth century. It comes from misunderstanding the pupil of the eye as a sphere and...