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No Better Than She Ought to Be

If a lady is no better than she ought to be, her sexual morals may be in question. The saying, recently popularized by the BBC program Downton Abbey, is what’s known as a charientism, or a bit of sugar-coated snark. By the way, if you’d...

Arabic Sayings

The Arabic idiom in the apricot season translates to “in your dreams,” presumably because the growing season for this fruit is so brief. Incidentally, the etymological root of “apricot,” which means “to ripen...

A Bad Penny Always Turns Up

The saying a bad penny always turns up has been turning up in English since the 15th century, when counterfeit pennies would often surface in circulation. As pennies have lost their luster, the phrase has lived on; see the line “Don, my bad...

Miracle-Potion Pitch

Looking for something that curls your hair, cleans your teeth, and makes childbirth a pleasure? A listener’s mother used that saying in reference to every miracle potion from WD-40 to vinegar. Grant explains that the first known version of...

Apologetic Apostrophes

What’s it called when saying becomes sayin’? It’s not a trick question; it’s simply called an abbreviation. Grant and Martha settle an English major’s confusion about the possibility of a trickier term. With words like...

Where the Tsar Goes

A listener shares a Russian saying that translates I am going “there where the Tsar goes on foot,” meaning “I am going to the bathroom.” It’s the equivalent of we all put our pants on one leg at a time, or we’re...

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