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Get the Goody Out

Amelia in Arlington, Virginia, was surprised to hear her wife, who is from Iowa, use the phrase getting the goody out to describe someone sporting a well-worn pair of sweatpants, indicating that they were continuing to get the most out of that...

Why Are Some Competitions “Heats”?

Why do we use the word heat to denote a preliminary qualifying race? Hundreds of years ago, a single instance of heating something such as a piece of metal over a fire for metalworking was called a heat. Later that term was applied to “a round...

Re in Email Subject Lines

Re: in an email subject line means “regarding” or “with reference to,” but it’s not an abbreviation for either one of those things. It comes from a form of the Latin word res meaning “matter” or “thing...

Guess What

English is full of unusual terms, both old (eleemosynary, favonian) and new (flyaway, catio). Also, the Swahili term that means “sleep like a log,” the multiple meanings of the word joint, cowpies and horse biscuits, what it means to...

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