Feature Word: Pork Barrel

Definition:

government projects or appropriations yielding rich patronage benefits.

Description:

You might expect that the original pork barrels were barrels for storing pork — and you’re right. In the early 19th century, that’s exactly what ‘pork barrel’ meant.

But, the term was also used figuratively to mean ‘a supply of money’ or ‘one’s livelihood’ (a farmer, after all, could readily turn pork into cash).

When 20th-century legislators doled out appropriations that benefited their home districts, someone apparently made an association between the profit a farmer got from a barrel of pork and the benefits derived from certain state and federal projects. By 1909, ‘pork barrel’ was being used as a noun naming such government appropriations, and today the term is often used attributively in constructions such as ‘pork barrel politics’ or ‘pork barrel project.’

Source:

Merriam Webster Dictionary - Word of the Day

Thug

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Definition:

Gangster, hoodlum

Description:

The word originated from India describing a band of ruthless bandits in the hills of India. These mythical bandits wore yellow (or orange) bandana which they used to strangle unsuspecting travelers. The ‘hugghi’ only kill their victims by this way.
During British occupation, the British soldiers decided to erradicate the ‘thugghi’. They found thousands of bodies burried by them. From that point on, the word ‘thug’ was used to describe someone who is ruthless.

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Spunk

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Definition:

a woody tinder : punk -or- spirit, liveliness

Description:

In the 1500s, someone who fought bravely, especially against tough opponents, was thought of as being on fire. The flaring of the human spirit that happened when someone acted bravely was compared to tinder bursting into flames. In Scotland, tinder was often a dry, spongy wood that was called ‘spong’ because it looked like a sponge (‘spong,’ the Scottish Gaelic name for a sponge, developed from the Latin word ‘spongia,’ which also meant ‘sponge’). The image of that spongy wood bursting into flames inspired English speakers to turn ‘spong’ into ‘spunk.’

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Siamese Twins

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Definition:

Twins that are joined physically.

Description:

The term was first used in 1829 to describe a popular sideshow act of two siblings from Southeast Asia that were joined at the stomach by a small stretch of skin.

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Sarcophagus

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Definition:

Coffin, a holding container for dead bodies.

Description:

In Latin, sarcophagus means ‘flesh-eater’.
When the Romans would open up the tombs that would store the dead commoners of Egypt, the bodies were so decayed (because they were not embalmed) that the Romans thought that they were meant to be in that condition.
They thought that the bodies were put in the containers to rot, so they called the container ‘flesh-eater’, or ‘sarcophagus’.

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Raining cats and dogs

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Definition:

Hard downpour

Description:

Houses had thatched roofs–thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath.

It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, and bugs lived in the roof.

During a large rainstorm, it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof–hence the saying

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