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Honyoks and Hunyokkers

Kyle in Fort Monroe, Virginia, says his family jokingly uses the term honyock to refer to “someone who acts in a silly way,” and often applies this word to politicians and bad drivers. Variously spelled, hunkyak, hunyakker, or hunyokker...

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

Charlie in Lexington, Kentucky, says his wife, who’s from the eastern part of the state, uses a peculiar phrase to indicate that something’s not her responsibility: Not my circus, not my monkeys. This dismissive saying is at least 30...

Farblonjet

Elliott, from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, asks about the Yiddish word variously spelled farblonjet, farblunget, and other ways. It means lost, befuddled, or confused and may derive from a Polish term meaning to go astray. This is part of a complete...

Who Is She From Home?

Who is she from home? meaning “What’s her maiden name?” is a construction common in communities with significant Polish heritage. It’s what linguists call a calque — a word or phrase from another language translated literally...

Name From Home

A caller from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, was puzzled when she moved there and locals asked, “What’s your name from home?” meaning, “What’s your maiden name?” The community has a strong Polish heritage and she...

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