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Medieval Book Thief Curses

To warn away thieves, medieval scribes sometimes added a written curse to the colophon of a precious book. Curses were once considered such powerful deterrents that they were sometimes added to Anglo-Saxon legal documents. This is part of a complete...

Cabbage as a Verb

Tracy from Sherman, Texas, wonders why her dad always used cabbage as a verb to mean “to pilfer or swipe.” This term goes back to at least the 18th century, when the verb to cabbage had to do with employee theft. Specifically, it...

straight lining

straight lining  n.— «Although the city sometimes pulls meters to thwart the most egregious offenders, these water thieves use a method called straight lining to keep the water running. They insert a pipe that taps into the supply line...

patchwriting

patchwriting  n.— «Ms. Blum also embraces various postmodern theories of plagiarism. Internet-savvy, intertextual ingénues don’t steal words; they engage in “patchwriting” and “pastiche,” constructing essays the way...

fly signs

fly signs  v. phr.— «He said he’s been arrested several times for “flying signs,” street lingo for panhandling on a street corner, and for theft of food and hygiene items at a Roth’s store.» —“Street kids and authority...

job and knock

job and knock  n.— «A regular inquiry theme has been the RailCorp tradition of “job and knock”—a term for leaving a job after only a couple of hours but charging for the whole day.» —“Employee goes back to work despite...

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