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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...

Shake a Stick At

Where do we get the expression more than you can shake a stick at? It probably just derives from counting. Imagine herdsmen bringing in their cattle or sheep at the end of the day, pointing with a stick in order to do a headcount. This is part of a...

A Roberta of Flax

We have collective nouns for animals, like “a gaggle of geese,” “a pride of lions,” and “an exaltation of larks.” So why not collective nouns for plants? How about a “greasing of palms,” or a...

shake and bake

shake and bake  n.— «Some people lay down on the floor to get below the smoke. Others began shaking open their emergency rescue shelters. Made of a reflective material, the tents are a last resort. Some firefighters ghoulishly refer to...

triple

triple  n.— «There is so much hugging at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, N.J., that students have broken down the hugs by type: […] There’s the shake and lean; the hug from behind; and, the newest addition, the triple —...

shake and bake school

shake and bake school  n.— «It was home to Tobias Aerospace, where 1,300 mechanics have been tested—mechanics who work on aircraft flying in Texas. What may have happened here is what some experts call a “shake and bake”...