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Is Scheming Negative or Neutral?

Bill, a substitute teacher in Fishers, Indiana, says that while visiting South Africa, he was surprised to hear an acquaintance use scheme to mean simply “a plan,” without no negative connotation whatsoever. In the UK and Commonwealth...

In Two Minds vs. Of Two Minds

In the US, if you’re ambivalent about something, you’re said to be of two minds. In the UK, however, they use a different preposition — they’re said to be in two minds. Also, Americans talk about brainstorms, which in the UK are...

Smeuse

There’s a word hole in a hedge or wall made by the repeated passage of a small animal. It’s called a smeuse. This dialect term from the UK is one of hundreds from Landmarks, a book of essays in which Robert Macfarlane seeks to reanimate...

One-Off

Where does the term one-off come from? Among British foundry workers in the 1950s, the number of units produced from a given mold was designated with the word off. So if twenty widgets came off the line, you’d call that batch a twenty-off. A...

What People Say to Baldies

Has anyone collected the stuff folks say to bald people? How about a busy road grows no grass, or God only made so many perfect heads — the rest he covered in hair. Jorge Luis Borges deemed the 1982 Falklands War between the UK and Argentina as...

How British and American First Meetings Differ

Step into a traditional English pub, it’ll be a while before everyone knows your name. A long while, in fact. The rules of conversational engagement are different in the UK from what you’d find in a place like Cheers. Kate Fox’s...

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