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Johnny Pump

Paul in Centerville, Massachusetts, says his parents, who hail from Brooklyn, New York, always referred to a fire hydrant as a Johnny pump. This term is largely confined to New York City, and may derive from the fact that these sources of water were...

Too Much Sand for My Truck

Robert in Oak Park, Illinois, seeks a Portuguese phrase he once heard that a man might say when the object of his affection is out of their league or otherwise forever unattainable. This wistful phrase is Ela é muita areia pro meu caminhãozinho or...

What Does “Snaggletooth” Mean?

Max from La Jolla, California, named his beloved rescue dog Snaggletooth. A snaggletooth is “a broken tooth” or “a tooth projects beyond the mouth.” It’s from the same linguistic root as snag, originally “a tree...

Episode 1539

Clever Clogs

Ribbon fall. Gallery forest. You won’t find terms like these in most dictionaries, but they and hundreds like them are discussed by famous writers in the book Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape. The book is an intriguing collection...

Blind Creek

The term blind creek refers to evidence of a waterway that’s dried up, although water can still be found if you dig far enough. It’s one of more than 800 terms defined in Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape. This is part of a...