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Spit Game

First-century graffiti. People in ancient times could be just as bawdy and colorful as we are today. To prove it, we found some graffiti written on the walls in the city of Pompeii, and found plenty of sex, arrogance and good old fashioned bathroom...

British Slang to Grass Someone

If you watch British police procedurals, you’ll likely come across the term to grass someone, meaning “to inform on someone” or “to rat someone out.” It’s a bit of British rhyming slang that originated with the 19th...

Hinky

Hinky, or hincty, is a term going back to the 1920’s that has meant both “snobbish” and “haughty,” or, more commonly, suspicious. A police officer from Grove City, Pennsylvania, calls to say his older colleagues often...

Shiver Me Timbers

Careful what you criticize! Not long ago, some words that sound perfectly normal today were considered gauche and grating on the ear. If the complainers had had their way, we couldn’t say a word like pessimism or use contact as a verb! Also...

Above Your Raisin’

There’s a new kind of hamburger menu that involves pixels, not pickles. It’s that little stack of horizontal lines in the corner of a webpage that you click to see more options. You might use a hamburger menu while webrooming–that...

Etymology of Police Officer “Pigs”

The term pigs, in reference to police officers, comes from England’s underground criminal slang and shows up in the early 1800s. It refers to pigs as vile creatures that take more than their share, akin to police officers who would take the...

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