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Feeding Coxey’s Army

In 1894, the U.S. was in an economic depression, an Ohio businessman named Jacob Coxey led a march on Washington to protest national economic policies. This motley crew came to be known as Coxey’s army, and the phrases “enough food to...

Tearing the Rag off the Bush

Something excellent can be said to “tear the rag off the bush,” or “take the rag,” and it likely comes from old Western shooting competitions, where the winner would shoot a rag off a bush. The Oxford English Dictionary shows...

Jimmies and Joes

A Forth Worth, Texas, listener who interviewed candidates for a head football coach position at a high school reports that out of eight interviewees, six of them used the phrase, “It’s not about the X’s and the O’s...

Subscriber Countdowns

The writer Clay Shirky tipped us off to a morbid bit of slang used in the dying business of print newspapers, where obituaries are referred to as subscriber countdowns. This is part of a complete episode.

Monkey for a Week

“Order in the court, the monkey wants to speak, the first one to speak is a monkey for a week!” This children’s rhyme appears in print in the 1950s, and Israel Kaplan mentions it in When I Was a Boy in Brooklyn, his take on growing...

Dish-to-Pass Supper

A dish-to-pass supper, common in Indiana, is the same as a pot-luck supper or a covered-dish supper, but the term nosh-you-want drew a red flag when Grant went to visit the Wikipedia page for potluck. It hadn’t appeared in any other form of...

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