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Etymology of Smidge

A Fort Worth, Texas, hospital worker says she’s forever telling her patients to move over on the gurney just a smidge or a tidge, and wants to know if they’re real words. Smidge is a shortening of smidgeon; tidge is likely a mix of tad...

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...

I’ll Be Your Boo

If you’re nibbling on slippery Jims or sipping sweet soup, chances are you’re in the Badger State. It’s the language of Wisconsin — explained at last. Also, the famous abolitionist whose name became an exclamation, and how to...

Eat the Grindstone

The books we love as children may influence our careers more than we realize. As a child, Martha was fascinated with stories of cracking codes, and Grant loved books with glossaries–not that far from the kind of work they do today. A caller...

Baffies

Baffies—not bathies—is a Scottish term for the slippers you might wear in the morning to and from the shower, cooking breakfast, or doing just about anything during the transition from barefootedness to having real shoes on. This is part of a...

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