America's Secret Slang
Guns, Booze, and PoliticsAired on Apr 14, 2013
Politics is full of odd phrases like “pork barrel projects,” “slush funds,” and “lame ducks” — all of which had practical origins and morphed to mean what they do today. The same can be said about the language and culture of guns and booze during the Prohibition era, which gave us phrases like “falling off the wagon,” “teetotaler,” and “skid row.” But what exactly do them mean? Find out those answers in this episode and discover what it really means to be a “bootlegger.”
Them's Fighting WordsAired on Apr 14, 2013
Have you ever wondered why someone who can’t get it together is called a “basket case”? Or where the term “Yankee” came from? And why do we say someone “bought the farm” when they die? The answers to these questions all have one thing in common: war. From the American Revolution to WWII, wars have spurred thousands of words and phrases you use every day including “sideburns,” “deadlines,” and even “hookers!” Join us, as we reveal the history behind America’s secret slang.
Y'all Speak CountryAired on Apr 21, 2013
The American South has given us words like “y’all” and “rednecks” as well as dozens of colorful phrases like “fly off the handle,” “having an axe to grind,” and “barking up the wrong tree.” But what are the origins of these expressions and why has one group of people contributed so much to the American language? The answers reveal the hidden history behind the American south and its secret slang.
West Word, Ho!Aired on Apr 28, 2013
Expressions from “riffraff” to “betting your bottom dollar”, “passing the buck,” “acid test” and even “heard it through the grapevine” all come from America’s frontier days. But have you ever wondered why these phrases were first used and what they mean today? The answers reveal the hidden history behind America and its secret slang.
Coming to AmericaAired on May 05, 2013
Ever wonder why American cowboys say “‘git along little doggies” when they’re talking about herding cattle? Or why a losing wrestler “cries uncle?” And why do we say “ouch” when we stub a toe? The answers to all these questions can be traced to the millions of immigrants who’ve flooded into the US over the past 200 years and created a language that’s entirely America. Join us as we reveal the history behind America’s secret slang.
Talking TurkeyAired on May 12, 2013
Americans have always loved to eat and expressions relating to food–from New York’s “big apple” to “wake up and smell the coffee” –pepper our everyday speech. But where did they all come from? For example, why is something that’s as “easy as pie” considered “a piece of cake?” Or why do you “talk turkey” about quitting a bad habit “cold turkey?” And what does it really mean to “bring home the bacon”? The answers reveal the hidden history behind America’s food and its secret slang.