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“To Wing It” Origins

The expression to wing it, meaning to perform by improvising or with little preparation, comes from the world of 19th-century theater, where it denoted the work of understudies who stepped onstage and received prompting from the wings of the stage...

Hindi Dance Proverb

A popular Hindi proverb about blaming everyone but oneself translates as “One who knows no dance claims that the stage is tilted.” This is part of a complete episode.

Peck’s Bad Boy

In the late 19th century, Wisconsin newspaperman George Wilbur Peck wrote a series of columns about a fictional boy who was the personification of mischief. The popular character inspired stage and movie adaptations, and the term “Peck’s...

Herod Clause

When you get to the stage of an online transaction where you’re asked to read the “Terms and Conditions,” do you actually read them? Or do you just check the box and move on? A London security firm once offered free use of a WiFi...

Of Pupae and Pupils

A question from a listener on the A Way with Words Facebook page has Martha musing about the entomological and etymological connections between the word pupil and the pupal stage of an insect’s life.

sexual anorexia

sexual anorexia  n.— «Your husband’s behavior is actually very common for people who have a sexual addiction. There is a term for it: Sexual Anorexia—he starves you sexually because he no longer needs you—he has videos which don’t demand...