Month: August 2021

bumpkin

A “bumpkin” is an unsophisticated or socially awkward person from the countryside; a yokel, a hayseed, a hick. There are many words to indicate the dim-wittedness of rustics but few to suggest their intelligence. Obviously it’s meant to be insulting. A “bumpkin” was originally, in the 1500s, a name the English used for the Dutch, whom they portrayed as small,…

blooper

A “blooper” is an error, usually accidental and humorous and, for the most part,  made during a live radio or TV broadcast, but they also occur in the sports world. With the pressure that performers endure, it’s not surprising that such goofs happen. “Blooper” was coined from the word bloop, a term used in 1920s American radio to refer to…

bobby pin

“Bobby pins” are metal (or plastic) clips made with two flexible prongs, with one prong typically straight and one ridged. They are slid into the hair with the prongs open and then the flexible prongs close over the hair to hold it in place. English manufacturers Kirby, Beard & Co. Ltd. of Birmingham made hairpins similar to the bobby pin,…

booby trap

A “booby trap” is an apparently harmless object which may trigger a practical joke but can also be a possibly lethal trap. “Booby” has been in use since at least the 1600s, when it meant “stupid person, slow bird.” The “slow bird” referred to the large sea birds we call “boobies.” These birds have large wingspans but are clumsy and…

the eleventh word herd

Knick-knack  — a dainty little trinket or ornament. “Knick” is merely a reduplication of knack. We now use knack as meaning “a dexterous facility,” but in the 1500s it was used to mean “an ingenious contrivance; a toy or trinket.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A lick and a promise — refers to something being done quickly and not very well. For example, the…

barn burner

A “barn burner” is an event, often a sports contest, that is very exciting or intense. The earliest known use for this meaning is from the Omaha World-Herald, 13 May 1934. However, nearly a 100 years prior to this, “barn burner” had a specific meaning in US politics. The Barnburners were radical, men who were thought to be willing to…

bazooka

There are two definitions for “bazooka.”  The Merriam Webster Dictionary says it’s “a tube-shaped, portable rocket launcher that fires a rocket capable of penetrating several inches of armor plate, as of a tank or other armored military vehicle.” Wikipedia says the bazooka “is a brass musical instrument several feet in length which incorporates telescopic tubing like the trombone. Radio comedian…

blimp

A blimp is a kind of airship, or dirigible, that is powered, steerable, and lighter than air. It has no internal structural framework or keel. The pressurized gas used to inflate such a vehicle and the strength of the envelope itself maintain its shape. Zeppelins, on the other hand, have rigid frames that retain their shape whether or not they…

bling-bling

Bling-bling, often shortened to bling, is ostentatious, over-the-top jewelry, designer bags, and the like, worn especially to indicate wealth or status. It’s unknown where the term was coined, but it became popular at the end of the 1900s, when ‘bling’ became a feature of the Gangsta rap hip hop scene in the US, as well as in Jamaica. It first…