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Mysteries of vernacular: Keister, a person's buttocks. Though the modern meaning of keister refers somewhat indecorously to a person's behind, the word's history does not begin...
Mysteries of vernacular: X-ray, a form of electromagnetic radiation capable of penetrating solids. The word X-ray harkens back to the work of Rene Descartes, a French philosopher, mathematician, and...
Mysteries of vernacular: Zero, a number that indicates an absence of units. In order to understand the genesis of the word zero, we must begin with the very origins of counting. The earliest known...
Mysteries of vernacular: Sarcophagus, a stone coffin typically adorned with decorative carvings or inscriptions. The history of the word sarcophagus is so skin-crawlingly grotesque, it seems to come...
Mysteries of vernacular: Fizzle, to end weakly or to fail, to die out. The definition of fizzle likely links back to the Old English word fist, which meant stink. In the mid-fifteenth century, fist...