Month: September 2019

canoodle

“Canoodle” means to kiss and cuddle amorously, to pet or fondle. The origin is unknown, but the Oxford English Dictionary says that in the 1830s, the word was used in Britain in a sense of “cheat” or “overpower.” Folk etymology cites the use of two-person canoes to escape a chaperon by couples during Victorian and Edwardian times. And, today, “canoodling”…

cold turkey

To “go cold turkey” means to withdraw suddenly and completely from addictive substances, such as alcohol, heroin, and chocolate cake, and endure the resulting unpleasant experience. Also, predominantly in the USA, it means plain speaking. The Oxford English Dictionary says the phrase first appeared in print in the early 1900s, and was later tied specifically to quitting addictive substances in…

best bib and tucker

If you’re dressed up in your best bib and tucker, you’re wearing your best clothes. The phrase arose in the 1600s, when people wore a bib (frill at front of a shirt or dress) or a tucker (ornamental lace covering a woman’s neck and shoulders). We no longer wear either, but the phrase survives, perhaps because of pleasing alliteration and…

Kilroy was here

“Kilroy was here” is an expression that became popular during World War II, typically showing up as graffiti. Kilroy has been seen all over the world and went viral long before the Internet was around, finding his way through all the theaters of war with American troops. Its origin is debated, but the phrase and the distinctive accompanying doodle became…

nincompoop

A “nincompoop” is a foolish or stupid person, who often flaunts his stupidity in front of others. Synonyms are: jackass, idiot, dunce, imbecile, blockhead, dummy, numbskull, birdbrain, nitwit, dimwit, dumbass, bonehead, dumbbell, silly, and moron. Dr Johnson, in his famous Dictionary of 1755, said the word came from Latin non compos, as in the medical and legal phrase non compos…

dog robber

Today, a “dog robber” is a military officer’s orderly, whose job is to acquire scarce goods, from military equipment to liquor or perfume, often staying barely within the letter of the law. In other words, someone skilled at foraging. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the term back to 1832, when it meant “scrounger,” and to the American Civil War as…

Deep Water

I’m thrilled to annouce that I have a new book out! Here’s the cover and the back cover blurb:   Deception Bay is still what might be called a sleepy village, but right now it isn’t peaceful. Between the possible sale of the venerable Wayfarer Inn to make way for upscale condominiums, and a major fire, Larry, local bartender, and…