Author Archives: WordSnooper.com

About WordSnooper.com

Lexie Kahn: Word Snooper is a blog about words and their origins at WordSnooper.com.

Extra Lex: Debunking Myths about Phrase Origins

A widely-circulated email called “Little History Lesson” gets the history of phrases like “big wig,” “to cost an arm and a leg” and “mind your own beeswax” all wrong. Here are the true stories from Mental Floss.  

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Spring Bounces In

I didn’t see her slip in — the tall, wavy-haired figure silhouetted in front of me. “Afternoon, Ms. Kahn,” she said. “And to you, Ms. Khan.” It was Amira Khan, the anonymous Boss Lady’s go-fer. Things were looking up. “Mrs. … Continue reading

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Extra Lex: “Life in the 1500s” Phrase Origins Hoax

While Lexie waits for the return of the novel novelist, check out these articles from Mental Floss debunking a popular email with fake origin stories for many expressions: http://mentalfloss.com/article/55503/7-tall-tales-about-life-1500s-and-origins-phrases http://mentalfloss.com/article/55688/6-widely-repeated-phrase-origins-debunked

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A Novel That’s a Real Novelty

I was hunched in my windowless corner office nursing a double. I was dry as an unirrigated field in California’s 500-year drought. Maybe the last gully-washer knocked a few years off the rating, but I was in a dry state, … Continue reading

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Quiz: 100-Year-Old Words

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, six of the following words and phrases first appeared in print in English in 1914. Can you spot the four that didn’t and tell whether they appeared earlier or later? La gazette du bon … Continue reading

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Words of the Year Quiz

The publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) generated a sharknado of publicity by proclaiming selfie their Word of the Year for 2013.  Although the Australian term for a photographic self-portrait goes back 20 years, the confluence of camera phones, social … Continue reading

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Molecular Mystery with a Side of Sushi

I was trembling like a Chihuahua after a thunderclap from too many Frappuccinos, but ravenous as I reached the Kenmore Arms. I jiggled the key in the lock until it yielded and kicked the door open. I yanked open the … Continue reading

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Are Partners People Who Part?

“Okay, we’ve got party figured out.” Pat drained the dregs from the plastic glass. What do part and parcel and partial have to do with partner?” “Yeah,” Chris said. “We vowed to stay together ‘until death we do part.’” Pat … Continue reading

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Party Politics and Etymology

“Getting back to our wedding reception…” Pat started. “You guys had a party and we weren’t invited?” Lee fumed. Guys, I thought. Had Lee revealed something? No. “You guys” doesn’t indicate gender. “Of course not,” Chris said. “The party is … Continue reading

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Should “Husband” Be Banned?

While I was getting us all another round of java, I tried to scope out the two couples for clues. No hairy hands. Just how big was Pat’s Adam’s apple? I turned to take the cardboard tray from the barista … Continue reading

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