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Where in the Blazes am I?

When James from Waco, Texas, was lost while hiking, he wondered Where in the blazes am I?, then wondered about the origin of that expression. It doesn’t derive from blaze meaning “to cut into a tree to mark a trail.” That term...

Vinegar Mother

A woman in Cheyenne, Wyoming, says her mom used to refer to the cloudy scum that sometimes forms atop vinegar as mother. The term has been around at least 500 years, and can refer to the scum on the top or sediment on the bottom. It’s also...

Barrow Pit

A caller in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, refers to a roadside ditch as a borrow pit, as if the dirt dug from it was “borrowed” to form the raised surface of the road. It’s a misinterpretation of the original term, barrow pit, deriving...

Sea Change Meaning and Origin

A sea change is a profound transformation, although some people erroneously use it to mean a slight shift, as when winds change direction on the surface of the ocean. In reality, the term refers to the kind of change effected on something submerged...