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Close, But No Cigar

The saying “close but no cigar” comes from the famous carnival game wherein a bold fellow tries to swing a sledgehammer hard enough to make a bell ring. The winner of the game, which was popular around 1900, would win a cigar. The game...

Tearing the Rag off the Bush

Something excellent can be said to “tear the rag off the bush,” or “take the rag,” and it likely comes from old Western shooting competitions, where the winner would shoot a rag off a bush. The Oxford English Dictionary shows...

Pantone Color of 2015

The Pantone Color Institute announced its 2015 Color of the Year, and the winner is marsala. The reddish brown hue is named for a wine from the West Coast of Sicily, which in turn may go back to an Arabic term meaning “harbor of god.”...

Tear the Rag Off the Bush

The Southern idiom tear the rag off the bush has been used when scandalous relationships are revealed, but it’s also applicable to anything surprising. It’s similar to “Don’t that beat all?” and “Doesn’t...