Discover more from New-to-me Phrases
NTMP 61: Dingusborough
Hold it by the non-bitey end
The Phrases, With Context
Spring is my absolute favorite season by miles. After the suffering of winter, especially the longest month (February), it feels like we’ve earned the joyous birdsong, intermittent sunshine, budding trees, and blooming flowers. I have such strong feelings about February that I would go live somewhere else each year if it was feasible to do so.
Instead, I made some art about it, and then I took a crappy photo of it:
As of yesterday, I have daffodils blooming and we have a group of wild turkeys visiting our place every evening before they jump onto a neighbors’ roof and fly up into the trees to roost for the night—which is really something to see. We have bird feeders in the front and back yards and the turkeys like to snack on whatever the smaller birds drop (birds eat like Cookie Monster, with crumbs flying everywhere). It’s all very exciting if you’re a boring middle-aged person who is super-into birds.
But you came here for phrases, and phrases you shall have! This week, we have cheeky government social accounts, self-naming kids, unstoppable swine, and more.
But First! March Poll Results!
I appears that no one but me found “lime turd cart” (a mispronunciation of “lime curd tart” funny. ::Ron Swanson GIF:: However, NTMP readers did enjoy "beverage goblin,” and that’s what won, with “Wheelie Nelson” a close second. If you voted, thanks for doing your part for democracy. 🪨🇺🇸🦅
Let’s get to the phrases!
1. Murder feet
I found this one via the excellent Not a Newsletter. Published in a Google doc (so you know I was meant to love it) Not a Newsletter is mostly for people who write newsletters but it also includes link roundups of interesting stuff.
A recent edition linked to a Live Science story about scientists discovering a 55-million-year-old owl with murder feet. One of the first known owls to exist, Primoptynx poliotauros used its killer feet to snag and murder its prey (today’s owls use their beaks).
2. Bitey end
If you’re into learning fun facts via memes and other assorted silliness, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a similarly awesome IG account.
3. Rubber duck debugging
I enjoy author Dan Pink’s Pinkcast, a short-but-pithy interview designed to help you think or act in new ways, with bonus “fun dad” vibes. Dan is also doing TikToks for the Washington Post, offering similarly useful insights.
If you already work in tech you likely know this phrase, but because I do not, here’s the context: Software engineers will go through their code line by line, explaining to a rubber duck what each line means. By explaining the code, they often find problems and solutions to them. Pink advocates doing this for any context in which we feel stuck, and as a writer I just might try it. Except I’ll use a Squishmallow instead of a rubber duck.
4. Smingus Dingus
This was a throwaway line from last week’s episode of Ted Lasso (S3E4), when a soccer player says:
I let all of my children name themselves once they reach the age of seven. That is why my eldest is called “Smingus Dingus.”
(I omitted the player’s name to avoid minor spoilers for those who haven’t watched S3 yet.)
While Googling Smingus Dingus (as one does), I kept getting results for a holiday called Śmigus Dyngus, which has some totally normal and not at all misogynistic rituals associated with it:
The festival is traditionally celebrated by boys throwing water over girls they like and spanking them with pussy willows. Boys would sneak into girls' homes at daybreak on Easter Monday and throw containers of water over them while they were still in bed.
After all the water had been thrown, the screaming girls would often be dragged to a nearby river or pond for another drenching. Sometimes a girl would be carried out, still in her bed, before both bed and girl were thrown into the water together. Particularly attractive girls could expect to be soaked repeatedly during the day. Source: Wikipedia
The entire entry is full of WTF if you like reading about weird shit people did before TV and the internet. There are dyngus processions, dyngus songs, and people dressing up like bears before pouring water on other people, etc. Basically a rave before there were raves.
5. Butt pucker
My friend (and awesome paid subscriber) Rebecca sent me this one and I remember seeing it a few years back—pre-phrase-collecting - here’s a link to the Reddit thread and here’s a screenshot - the first post is in response to the question, “What’s the most disturbing realisation you’ve come to?”
I read it and wondered, “Is this actually true?” Turns out, a kid did a science experiment about this:
Working with their mom, they applied non-toxic red lipstick to their two cats’ bholes to test the hypothesis. (Sure, why not?) According to the research, cats with shorter hair are more likely than longer-haired felines to cause some contact between their poop chutes and softer items like . . . pillows. 🙀
I couldn’t find anything that looked credible to back up that random Redditor’s story about butt suckers (surprising, I know!) but if you turn anything up about hairless cat suction butts, let me know and I’ll post an update!
6. Brain laundry
Rebecca also sent me this tweet and I love it so much:
I was on a Zoom call with someone who wrote in the chat that they were from Loughborough in the UK. Someone asked how it was pronounced and they said “LUFF-burr-uh.” The English language is weird, man.
8. Got the morbs
Last but not least, Depths of Wikipedia shared this one recently and tweeted, “We need to bring this back.” From the Wikipedia entry:
"Got the morbs" is a slang phrase or euphemism used in the Victorian era. The phrase describes a person afflicted with temporary melancholy or sadness. The term was defined in James Redding Ware's 1909 book Passing English of the Victorian Era.
Speaking of tweets, this week Twitter blocked creators from linking to their Substack newsletters, presumably because Substack is about to release a new feature that sort of resembles a social media feed. King of free speech, let the free market sort it out, yada. 🤡 I dearly miss comedy and science Twitter, but I am so glad I deleted when Musk banned journalists who asked him direct questions. I keep hoping someone competent will buy it from this absolute tool at a huge loss for him and go on run it well, but I’m also not holding my breath.
That’s it for this week! Remember to stay curious and remain furious!
Special shout-out to a new paid subscriber: Melessa!
Thank you for supporting the effort required to write this newsletter each week.
Want to be cool like Melessa, Rebecca, Lindsay, B.D., Mike, Ashley, Suzy, and Ellen? I can arrange that—click the button below to subscribe:
Thanks again for reading; I appreciate your support very much!