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Is There a Tail in Telltale Sign?

Ten-year-old Alex, from Oceanside, California, wonders if a cat’s flicking tail inspired the expression telltale sign, meaning “an indicator.” The word is telltale, not its soundalike telltail. About 400 years ago, a telltale was a...

Coast is Clear

In the military, if you’ve lost the bubble, then you can’t find your bearings. The term first referred to calibrating the position of aircraft and submarines. • The phrase the coast is clear may originate in watching for invaders...

Poke Fish Dish

Dallas Morning News restaurant critic Leslie Brenner has written about the popular fish dish called poke, which takes its name from a Hawaiian word that means “to cut crosswise.” Many other foods take their names for the way...