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Pinball Slang

Drain, gobble hole, and live catch are all terms used by pinball enthusiasts. Drain refers to “the space between flippers,” a gobble hole swallows up the ball, and live catch refers to “catching the ball on a flipper and balancing...

Box and Cox

To play Box and Cox means to participate in an arrangement in which you and someone else take turns occupying the same space at different times. This British expression derives from Box and Cox (Bookshop|Amazon), an 1847 farce by John Maddison...

Living Room, Family Room, Den

What do you call that room in your house where the family gathers — the family room? The den? The TV room? Names for that living space go in and out of fashion. In the 1930s, you might have called it the sitting room, parlor, living room, setting...

Proxemics and Public Space

Tony in Reno, Nevada, says he’s noticed people leaving more space between each other while standing in a queue. Is there a better term for this than personal space? The study of public spaces and the way we move around them is known as...

Cool Your Jets

If you want someone to calm down, you might say “Cool your jets!” This expression is among several catchphrases from a 1950s TV show about the extraterrestrial adventures of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Others include plug your jets...

Gemini Pronunciations

Viewers of the movie First Man, about the Gemini space program, may be surprised to learn that within National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the name Gemini is pronounced more like JEM-i-nee. Gemini is the Latin word for twin, and the source...