Good question! In 2018, I started collecting new-to-me words and phrases in what is now a 51 54 56-plus-page Google Doc that froze up so often that I had to start another one. That one is up to six pages as of May 2023. My one “rule” is that the new-to-me thing can’t be a complete sentence, though sometimes I will break form for an amazing one-liner.

Many of these phrases are seemingly or overtly inappropriate, and most of them are pretty funny even without context. But they don’t exist solely to be crude; the phrases also celebrate a love of language while delving into random and (hopefully) interesting stories and facts.

Over time, friends started sending me phrases. I will literally not hear from someone for months and get a random text that reads, “Snake orgy!” offering a reminder that things aren’t truly terrible all the time.

Content warning: If you don’t like swear words, gross stuff, or innuendo, this isn’t the newsletter for you. But if you want a bit of sometimes inappropriate silliness and mad word love in your inbox each week, you’ve come to the right place.

“Why share a bunch of dumb phrases in a newsletter?”

The last few years have been pretty rough. There are plenty of brilliant people writing eloquently about the unjust, inequitable, and very hard things happening in our world.

I’m not one of them.

I used to write a newsletter about writing and the creative life and whatever other random stuff I felt like sharing. I’d include a callout box with the week’s list of new-to-me phrases, shared without context.

I quit writing that newsletter after COVID entered the chat. But I kept getting feedback from friends that the new-to-me phrases were a bright spot for them, and that they were often the first thing they’d scroll to when my newsletter arrived.

So I decided to ditch the creative musings and simply bring some ridiculousness and laughter into your inbox, along with links to random interesting stuff. A little spot of serotonin to help you muddle through these unprecedented times.

You should know that I share a lot of links every week. They give more context to what I’m writing about, and/or contain interesting stuff for the perpetually curious, or maybe a sight gag or two. You never know!

“I don’t like phrases. Or new things. Or swear words. Or gross stuff. Or sexual innuendos.”

If you don’t like silly word mashups or the occasional swear word or innuendo, this definitely isn’t the newsletter for you. And that’s okay! There are eleventy billion other Substacks out there. Fly! Be free!

“What do the weirdos who read your newsletter have to say about it?”

I truly love it. I look forward to it every week. Your voice just makes me happy.

Thank you for this newsletter! Brightens my day when I get it.

Absolutely LOVE reading your newsletter every week! In addition, I get to add new insults like "fucksticks" to my vocab. :)

“A weekly boost in my inbox.”

“Can't wait for the next installment!”

“This is such a fun roundup of things I haven't seen 'round the internet.” 

“So here I am, so excited that Toni has a new newsletter and I'm diving into it and then BAM! YOU DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF WKRP?

Who are you and what did you do with Toni? 

Seriously, I'm enjoying the newsletter. Thank you!”

As usual, I laugh out loud (really loud 🤣) every time I read this fantastic newsletter! Thank you for putting more laughter in my life.

Your newsletter is a fucking delight!

Toni’s newsletter is a joyful delight bomb in my inbox every Sunday. Toni puts a lot of work into this thoughtful, funny roundup, and every week I learn something(s) new, giggle-snort, and throw my hand in the air to high-five her in Illinois from my cozy house in Ohio. Seriously, there’s something for everyone in this wonderful newsletter. Get you some!

-Kelly Hambly, who writes Both Things Can Be True on Substack.

“You’re amazing/annoying. Where else can I find/hate follow you?”

@Toni_McLellan on IG

Website (woefully in need of an update, cobbler’s kid, yada):

Subscribe to New-To-Me Phrases

A weekly roundup of words and phrases celebrating curiosity, language, and humor.


Content writer by day, full-time phrase hoarder since 2018. Bird enthusiast and proud mom of 🏳️‍⚧️ & 🏳️‍🌈 young adults.