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Lean on Your Own Dinner

Sam from Abilene, Texas, wonders about the phrase lean on your own dinner, which can be used literally to mean “support your own weight rather than leaning against me,” or metaphorically, as in suggesting someone refrain from asking...

Sal, Salary, Salarium

The Latin word sal, or “salt,” inspired the word salarium, the pay soldiers received to buy salt. This in turn led to the English word salary. Well into the 17th century, salt remained a valuable commodity, but today if you’re not...

More Bicycling Slang

Our conversation about gram weenies, those ultralight backpackers who go to extremes to shave off every last bit of excess weight in their gear, prompts a bicyclist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to share some cycling slang about ways to find a...

Grandmother = One Pound

Our earlier conversation about gram weenies, another name for ultralight backpackers, prompted a San Diego, California, man to write with the story of Bill Lear, the inventor of the LearJet, who once said he’d trade his own grandmother for a...

Gram Weenie

Gram weenie is a slang term for an ultralight backpacker who goes to extreme lengths to shave off every last bit of weight they must carry. This is part of a complete episode.

$10,000 and 1400 Pounds of Dictionaries

When I read this narrative about the making of the first edition of the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus by former coworker Erin McKean, I was reminded of something that happened. I was one of the book’s editors and worked with its...

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