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Who Struck John

Lisa in Wilmington, North Carolina, remembers her grandmother using the expression who struck John to mean “confusion,” “foolishness,” or “bad behavior.” A common variant is “who shot John.” No...

Cootie Shots and ’Uku Shots

Elizabeth in Suffolk, Virginia, spent her early childhood in Hawaii, then moved to Indiana and found that kids had a different playground game that involved pretending to use a cootie shot to inoculate someone against imagined infection from cooties...

Paragliding Lingo

In what sport would you hear the slang terms glass off, speck out, and get flushed? They’re all expressions used in paragliding. Glass-off refers to a smooth, effortless takeoff; to speck out is to go so high that you’re nearly invisible...

Worries of Failure Cause Flop Sweat

Someone who’s anxious about performing may break out in a flop sweat. The term comes from the theatre slang, where worries that one’s production is a flop may cause nervous perspiration. In the 1987 film Broadcast News, Albert...

The Much Longer Version of Basketball Horse

Growing up in Kentucky, where the state religion seems to be basketball, Martha played a lot of rounds of horse, where players compete to make baskets from the same court positions, shot for shot. If you miss, you get a letter from the word horse...

Charismatic Animals

After researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego discovered a seahorse-like creature called the ruby sea dragon, they described this brilliant red fish as a charismatic species. Many scientists use the word charismatic to...

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