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Bobbery

The term bobbery means a noisy disturbance or hubub. The word’s origin is disputed, although one explanation is that it comes from the Hindi exclamation “Bap re!” or literally, “Oh father!” This is part of a complete...

Grab a Root and Growl

The exhortation grab a root and growl is a way of telling someone to buck up and do what must be done. The sense of grabbing and growling here suggests the kind of tenacity you might see in a terrier sinking his teeth into something and refusing to...

To Be Honest With You

What does a person really mean when she starts a statement with “to be honest with you”? It’s important not to take such expressions too literally. This is part of a complete episode.

Enduring Word Choice

A woman whose first language is Persian wonders about the word enduring. Can she describe the work of being a parent as enduring? While the phrase is grammatically correct, the expression enduring parenting is not good idiomatic English. This is...

Poetic Spanish Saying

The poetic Spanish phrase “nadie te quita lo bailado” expressing the idea that once you’ve made a memory, you’ll always have it, no matter what. Literally, it translates as “no one can take away what you’ve danced...

No Great Shakes

The phrase “no great shakes” means “no great thing” or “insignificant.” The term may have arisen from the idea of shaking dice and then having a disappointing toss. If so, it would fall into a long line of words...

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