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To Harp on Something

Does the expression to harp on, as in “to nag,” have anything to do with the stringed instrument one plays by plucking? Yes! As early as the 16th century to harp all of one string meant to keep playing the same single note monotonously...

The Life of Riley

An Indianapolis listener who lives on same street where James Whitcomb Riley made his home wonders if the poet’s name has anything to do with the expression associated with living in high style, “the life of Riley.” Click on the...

Dangerous Books You Should Read

Howdy, pilgrims! This week in the A Way with Words podcast, discover the joys (and temptations!) of two new books of collected wisdom: "The Yale Book of Quotations" edited by Fred Shapiro, and James Geary's "Guide to the...

tampon rock

tampon rock  n.— «The other day I came across one of the most descriptive and appropriate genre titles. The lead singer of Dragonette called her previous work “Tampon Rock.” This genre is girls or women with guitars or a piano...

bombsighting

bombsighting  n.— «The machines, which are roughly the size of an upright piano and usually sell for between $50,000 and $80,000, pump “microdots” of molten solder through a nozzle onto the precise spot where component parts are to be...

put a nickel in someone

put a nickel in someone  v. phr.— «It came from the days of the Nickelodeon (very early 20th century) and was retailed to me by my grandmama. People would pop a nickle into the Nickelodeon (player piano) and a frantically energetic and...

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