Sep 19 2017

Overheard: 40 yr old male

“My uncle was ad-libbing as a physician.” 

I talked to this guy, and he clarified that he meant “moonlighting”.

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Sep 11 2017


“Slumgum in beekeeping is the residue of the beeswax rendering process. When the beeswax from brood comb is rendered to produce clean wax, it leaves behind the pupal lining, wax moth cocoons, excrement from larvae, and other residual debris included in the original material.”

from Wikipedia

For extra fun, do a Google image search for “slum gum.”

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Nov 4 2016


When I was growing up I remember hearing the term ‘grease zert,’ and I just assumed it was a made-up word. While my dad was skilled at a lot of things (drawing, aviation, mechanics,welding), he was not always known to handle the English language in a manner consistent with the generally agreed upon principles of usage (he once wrote the word ‘paided’ as a past tense for ‘pay’).

But it turns out that in this case he was pretty darn close:


See more of the etymology here at Merriam-Webster.

Pic borrowed from Currie Enterprises.


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Jan 30 2016


A British pejorative meaning overly quaint, dainty, cute or nice. The word comes from a childish pronunciation of ‘sweet.’

“Those Beatrix Potter animals are a little twee for my taste.”

See more at wiktionary.

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May 12 2015


fremdschämen (German). “This is what occurs when you are embarrassed for someone who ought to be embarrassed for himself, but isn’t.”

From Douglas Wilson, Whose Ox Is Being Sued

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Mar 27 2015

Literally literally does not mean literally

“Update: Graham’s spokesperson has clarified to Bloomberg that when Graham said “I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to,” that statement was “not to be taken literally.” Glad that’s been cleared up.”

–from’s article about Lindsey Graham. They don’t say it, but people who don’t understand what literally literally means literally should not be in public office. Literally.

via One Foot Tsunami

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Feb 23 2015


“The name boobam was coined in Mill Valley, California in 1954 and was described as “bamboo spelled sideways”.”

–from the Wikipedia article on the awesomely named instrument.

Update: I was reviewing my blog posts and figured I ought to clarify the pronunciation of this instrument. It should be pronounced like too separate words, with the stress on the first: Boo Bam.

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Feb 15 2015

The MadMania Podcast: Episode 1

In this, our no-doubt awesome inaugural episode my daughter, Elsa, and I discuss words: the good, the bad, and the German. Also our favorite diseases, and why you should definitely go into heavy metal.


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Jan 21 2015


“Supercalafragilisticexpialidocious, even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious”

It takes a bold lyricist to admit when his song is obnoxious in the very lyrics of said song.

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May 7 2014

ultima Thule

“The term ultima Thule in medieval geographies denotes any distant place located beyond the ‘borders of the known world’.”

Link to the Wikipedia article.

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