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Pat and Charlie

When you say, “I’ll get a ride with Pat and Charlie” or “I’m going to go with Pat and Charlie,” you’re talking about walking somewhere. Other colloquial ways to describe traveling on foot include getting...

Hunk Waffle

Decisions by dictionary editors, wacky wordplay, and Walt Whitman’s soaring verse. How do lexicographers decide which historical figures deserve a mention or perhaps even an illustration in the dictionary? The answer changes with the times. •...

Grab the Brass Ring

A ride on the carousel in San Diego’s Balboa Park has Martha pondering the origin of the phrases to grab the brass ring, meaning to achieve something difficult, and to reach for the brass ring, meaning to try hard to reach a goal, and by...

Whistle Britches

Writers and where they do their best creative work. A new book on Geoffrey Chaucer describes the dark, cramped, smelly room where he wrote his early work. Which raises the question: What kind of space do you need to produce your best writing...

Football Jargon

Football, like most sports, brings its own set of idioms and jargon that ride the line between cleverness and cliche. The adjective multiple describes a player, an offense or defense, or even a whole team that has multiple threats or talents. And a...

Unicycles

A unicycle enthusiast wonders if his unicycle can be properly called a bike. To avoid the four-syllable mouthful, the unicycle community (yes, there is one) sometimes calls it a uni, but for the general public, the term “bike” works...