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Informal English

Puncture Ladies, Egg Harbors, Mississippi Marbles, and Other Curious Words and Phrases of North America

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Gleaned from antiquated dictionaries, dialect glossaries, studies of folklore, nautical lexicons, historical writings, letters, novels, and miscellaneous sources, Informal English offers a captivating treasure trove of linguistic oddities that will not only entertain but also shed light on America's colloquial past. Among the gems are:

  • Surface-coal: cow dung, widely used for fuel in Texas
  • Bone-orchard: in the Southwest slang for a cemetery
  • Chawswizzled: "confounded" in Nebraskan idiom. "I'll be chawswizzled!"
  • Leather-ears: to Cape Cod inhabitants, a person of slow comprehension
  • Puncture lady: a southwestern expression for a woman who prefers to sit on the sidelines at a dance and gossip rather than dance, often puncturing someone's reputation

Whether the entries are unexpected twists on familiar-sounding expressions or based on curious old customs, this wide-ranging assortment of vernacular Americanisms will amaze and amuse even the most hard-boiled curmudgeon.

Photo Credit:

Jeffrey Kacirk is the author of Forgotten English, The Word Museum, and Altered English, as well as a daily calendar based on Forgotten English. He can be found on the web at www.forgottenenglish.com and lives in Marin County, California.

More books from this author: Jeffrey Kacirk