Feature Word: Wowser

Definition:

a fanatically puritanical person

Description:

‘Wowser’ is a delightful word with an interesting background, though its ultimate origin is unknown.

The word first appeared in print in 1899, in the Australian journal Truth, and was instantly popular in Australia. It rapidly spread to New Zealand, where it remains in use, and then eventually arrived in England, possibly brought by the Australian troops who served there during World War I.

The American writer and editor H. L. Mencken liked “wowser” and attempted to introduce it to the United States. He used the word frequently in American Mercury, the literary magazine he edited.

Despite Mencken’s efforts, however, the term never became particularly popular in American English; it is used occasionally, but it never truly caught on.

Source:

Merriam Webster's Dictionary

On/Off the Wagon

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Definition:

On: no longer drinking
Off: still drinking

Description:

When the mob was running moonshine, it was required that the drivers not drink alcohol.

So, when one is On the wagon, one is not supposed to drink alcohol.

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Lynch

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Definition:

kill without legal sanction

Description:

Lynch law (lynching) is a term describing the rough-and-ready administration of justice by a mob in cases where the law is inadequate or dilatory (nowadays popularly meaning the execution of a supposed criminal). The term originates from the practice of Charles Lynch, a farmer in Virginia, USA who during the later part of the 18th century supported revolutionary principles in the district where he lived by catching ‘Tories’ and infamous people, whom he then hanged by their thumbs until they cried out ‘Liberty for All’.

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Hello

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Definition:

A form of greeting

Description:

The word was coined by Thomas Edison as a form of greeting to be used on the telephone.
Alexander Graham Bell’s suggestion was ‘Hoy Hoy’.
Thomas Edison’s suggestion caught on.

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Gadget

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Definition:

appliance: a device or control that is very useful for a particular job

Description:

After the completion of the Statue of Liberty, the city of New York had a large celebration.
The owner of the company that designed the statue of Liberty, Gaget, Gaultier & Co., decided to cash in on this occasion, and made small bronze replica of the statue to sell.
It was such a popular item, that everyone was asking, ‘So, do you have your Gadget?’ referring to the small bronze replica of the Statue of Liberty.

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Doesn’t Have a Leg to Stand On

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Definition:

To be in a weak position; indefensible position; not supported by law

Description:

John Neil (1825) – Brother Jonathan
“As if the Yankee man were determined to leave the briggadier without a leg to stand upon, as a lawyer would say.”

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