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Smarmy Smarm

Greg, calling from Norfolk, Virginia, says that when he uses the word smarmy, some people seem not to know it. What does it mean? Where does it come from? Is it even a real word? It’s related to an old verb meaning to smear or be-daub. It’s kind of...

Hell’s Half Acre

Hundreds of years ago, the word girl didn’t necessarily mean a female child — in the 14th and 15th centuries, it could refer to a child of either sex. Only later did its meaning become more specific. • Some people think that referring to a...

How We Roll

If you’re serious about writing a memoir, what topics should you include, and what can you leave out? And how honest can you really be about the other people in your life? Some of America’s leading memoirists wrote things they lived to...

Pro Wrestling Lingo

Pro wrestling, a fake sport with a very real following, has a trove of lingo all its own that can be found in the newsletter and website PW Torch. One saying, “red means green,” refers to the fact that a wrestler who winds up bloody will...

Shakespeare’s Insults

If you don’t have anything nice to say, say it like Shakespeare: Thou unhandsome smush-mouthed mush-rump! Thou obscene rug-headed hornbeast! The Shakespeare Insult Generator helps you craft creative zingers by mixing and matching the...

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