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Desperate Ambrose

Deborah in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, remembers a phrase from her grandfather: Desperate Ambrose. He’s so desperate he would steal a hot stove. The first part is a reference to Desperate Ambrose, a character in the comic strip...

Light a Shuck

Light a shuck means “to skedaddle” or “leave quickly,” and is often found in cowboy literature. It’s a reference to moving quickly while using a burning corn shuck to light one’s way, and may also be influenced by...

“Cooking with Gas” Origin

In the 1930’s, the catch phrase Now you’re cooking with gas, meaning “you’re on the right track,” was heard on popular radio shows at the behest of the natural gas industry, as part of a quiet marketing push for gas-powered...

The Horse You Rode In On

What colorful language do you use to when you’re angry and tempted to use a four-letter word? There’s a difference between cursing and cussing: It takes a slow mind to curse, but an active, vibrant mind to cuss. Also, what it means to be...

Stove Up

What does it mean to be stove up? This phrase for sore or stiff has nothing to do with a stovetop; stove is actually the past tense of stave. To stave in a wooden boat is to smash a hole in its side, and thus, to be stove up is to be incapacitated...

Stoved Fingers

In an earlier episode, we discussed various meanings for the term stove up. One meaning of stove up is “to be in pain from work or exercise to the point where it’s hard to move.” Similarly, lots of athletes will get stoved fingers...