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“Colder Than” Similes

John in Seguin, Texas, says his mother used to use a phrase that sounded like colder than a well-digger’s clavicle. Why would she use that term, if that’s what it was? Clavicle comes from a Latin word that means little key. This is part...

Oxter and Oxtercog

The English word oxter means armpit, and to oxtercog someone is to carry them by the armpits. The term derives from the image of each of two people locking one shoulder under an armpit of the person carried, like a cog fitting into a wheel. This is...

Shoulder Season

A woman in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, wonders: Why is the less busy period in a tourist area known as the shoulder season? This is part of a complete episode.

Chip on the Shoulder

If one has a chip on one’s shoulder, they’re spoiling for a fight. The phrase derives from the old practice of literally putting a chip of wood or other small object on one’s shoulder and daring an adversary to knock the chip off...

Knighting Pun

Dubbing someone a knight by tapping their shoulder with a sword is a venerable tradition, but that didn’t stop a wag from mocking it in limerick form with a groaner of a pun. This is part of a complete episode.

Tap on the Shoulder

Sue in Eureka, California, was working at the grocery store during Senior Day when she reminded an elderly customer that the woman might be eligible for a discount. The shopper responded, “Thanks for the tap on the shoulder.” Did that...