America's Secret Slang

America's Secret Slang

S 2 E 7

Go for Broke

Jul 26, 2014 | 43m 11s | tv-pg | CC

In this episode, we look at the ways that American English has been transformed by the Vikings, the Cold War, computers, music, gambling, and the different meaning we give to the colors of the rainbow. Why is a “red letter day” good, but being “in the red” is bad? Why do we “boot up” a computer? What’s a “jackpot” and why do we “hit” it? Did the term “Cold War” really begin in the Middle Ages? And what’s the original meaning of the Viking word “thing”? All these terms show the ways that American English has been invigorated by crises from Viking invasions to the threat of nuclear war, and inspired by the colors we see, the music hear…and the money we lose in bets. And they prove that when it comes to our unique American language, we speak our history every day. If you just know where to look.

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