22 Sep 2022

Second Breakfast For Hobbit Day

Q. Happy Hobbit Day! September 22nd is for hobbitses as it marks both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthdays. So: take off your shoes, grab a cloak and a girdle, and let’s get celebrating. In honour of Tolkien’s hobbits, it is only fair that we eat second breakfasts all week. But,

22 Aug 2022

Is My Jam Your Jam?

Q. Overheard: “Biz Dev is my jam!” How does that sentence make you feel? i. Cool! Right. Biz Dev. Jam. ii. Meh. iii. Eww. How did the latter phrase – ‘my jam’ – come to represent something the speaker particularly likes? . A. Being ‘jammed’ can be associated with unpleasantness

17 Aug 2022

Everything’s Coming Up Danger

Q. What are some of the more unusual meanings that the Victorians assigned to flowers? . A. For 1800s floral bliss and horror, look to Kate Greenaway, an illustrator and author born 1846 in Hoxton, England. Alongside the nursery rhymes and bedtime tunes in the Treasury of Kate Greenaway, you’ll

29 Jun 2022

Honey Moon?

Q. How did post-wedding bliss travel come to be called a ‘honeymoon’? . A. Some say the just-wedded bliss of the ‘honeymoon’ – or the ‘hony moone’ as it was called in Olde English – gets its name from the sweetness of honey and the short-lived prominence of the moon.

16 May 2022

A Penny For Luck

Q. What are some of the many luck-inspired superstitions centred around pennies? . A. One thing is for certain: there are a lot. Here in Canada, you better hold on tight to the pennies you have. Our Royal Mint stopped making the ‘costs more to make one than have one’

25 Apr 2022

Gird Your What?

Q. ‘Gird your loins.’ Do you hear Stanley Tucci voicing that phrase? I certainly do. Boss Miranda Priestly, aka the incredible Meryl Streep, is foot out of the car, eyes on the elevator, and soon to thunder into the offices of Runway Magazine. “Why is no one REAdy?” Tucci as

29 Mar 2022

Travel Superstitions

Q. Why are there so many superstitions around travelling? Which ones have deep historic roots? . A. With all of the mystery and unpredictability of travel, it is no wonder that it has attracted so many superstitions. Anything for an illusion of control. Many clutch their lucky talismans in ever-squishier planes,

08 Mar 2022

Dull as Dishwater

Q. One thing is for sure: this is not how most of us would want to be described. ‘Dull as dishwater’. Dirty, dish-soiled water moves quickly from dull to disgusting. Of all the possible representations of dullness, how did dishwater find its way into the back of this idiom? .

21 Feb 2022

Dropping Shoes

Q. Well, that one horrid thing happened. And now, there’s the threat of more grief to follow. Murder hornets, you say. There’s a well-used expression to describe this feeling of impending doom: ‘Waiting for the other shoe to drop’.  But, why shoes? Where does that phrase originate? . A. Have

01 Feb 2022

If At First Your Invention Stinks

Q. What are some examples of inventions that were a flop to start, but then found new life put to an altogether different purpose? . A. As it turns out, there have been lots. Our first look in… Bubble Wrap How do you feel about the pop, pop, pop of