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To Briggle

Tommy from Carlsbad, California, wonders about an expression his mother used when he would be busily fastidious about cleaning to the point of overdoing it. She would say he was briggling. The verb to briggle is defined in the Dictionary of American...

Horsing Up in the Navy

Bob from Rockford, Illinois, recalls that forty years ago when he was in the Navy, his instructors would stamp their foot to emphasize a particular point that might be on the test later. They referred to this action as horsing up the students, and...

Mob Scene

Barbara in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, wonders about the term mob scene, means an unruly, dense crowd. The term arose in the world of theater, where it denotes a point in a performance with lots of people onstage. The word mob is a shortening of...

Around the Stump Expressions

Ann from Fort Worth, Texas, says her elderly aunt was talking disparagingly about two people who, in her words, wet around the same stump. This expression isn’t all that common, but it does appear in Sarah Bird’s 1999 novel Virgin of the...

Bear-Caught

An Omaha, Nebraska, man asks about the origin of the term bear-caught, which applies to someone with sunstroke or heat exhaustion. The point of popularization for this expression appears to be a 1965 book by Donn Pearce and its subsequent movie...

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