15 Feb 2021

Just Peachy

Q. What are some common English idioms – current and past – built around fruit? . A. Pleasant Enough Apple of your eye Now this is a person who makes you proud; tops on your list. Like Comparing Apples and Oranges These two things are too dissimilar; you can’t really

13 Feb 2021

Old Words For New Scandals

Q. Scandals are piling up so quickly these days, it’s hard to keep them straight. Wait, who did that again? We’re going to need some more descriptors; one story sounds just like the last. Are there any ancient or abandoned words ready to spring back into action? . A. The

08 Feb 2021

A Flower Before Dying

Q. Where does the phrase ‘last hurrah’ come from? . A. This well-used idiom is rooted in a 1956 Edwin O’Connor novel entitled, yup, The Last Hurrah. In it, 72-year old career politician Frank Skeffington decides he’s going to take one more run – one final attempt, a last ditch

04 Feb 2021

Hot Chocolate. Or is it Cocoa?

Q. It’s chilly at night; we’re bundled up in our houses. If ever there was a time for hot chocolate.. or is it cocoa? What’s the difference? . A. While both can be deliciously warming, hot cocoa is made from ground, roasted cocoa beans with sugar, while hot chocolate is

01 Feb 2021

Making Mannequin Heads

Q. As our attention moves to the world of lifelike robots, we owe a nod back to those who spend their days and weeks crafting old school mannequin heads. Who does that? . A. Their eyes fix on nosy visitors. Given their torsoless state, some of these display heads look

30 Jan 2021

Weird Things We Say

Q. We English speakers say some strange things. Which of our expressions are most likely to get lost in translation? . A. As we prattle on, it’s easy to forget how many baffling idioms we use in our complicated language. What must those new to English think when we drop off-topic,

25 Jan 2021

Starts with S, ends with X

Q. What are some of the euphemisms that polite – or seemingly polite – society have used to describe love (or lust) making over the centuries? . A. . Amorous congress . Basket-making . Behind door work . A bit of summer cabbage . Blanket hornpipe . Boil the cabbage

22 Jan 2021


Q. What are some paintings specifically focused on the idea of hope? . A. Over centuries, artists have used the word ‘hope’ in titling their artworks. As you’ll see below, some of the works are more unabashedly hopeful than others. . . Piero del Pollaioio. Hope. 1470 . George Frederic

16 Jan 2021

With This Wedding Cake

Q. What are some wedding cake-related superstitions? . A. This sweet embodiment of forever love is rife with superstitions. Pity the Medieval couples forced to seal the fate of their marriage with wedding cake jenga. Great piles of spice buns were piled one atop another into an unwieldy tower. The

13 Jan 2021

The Good Luck Bagel

Q. What are some of the many superstitions people have that involve bread? . A. Well, I’ll start with a personal experience … If there was a theme to be put on our wedding troasts, it would be my lifetime of klutzy mishaps, and my mountain-biking husband’s extreme neatness. “Liz,”