Lakshmi Gandhi appears in the following:
Saturday, May 31, 2014
The term "mumbo jumbo" dates back centuries and traces its roots to West Africa. It is widely believed to come from the Mandinka people who make up the largest ethnic group in what is now Ghana.
Monday, March 17, 2014
For our weekly word watch, we turn to "the idea of tremulous motion, swaying backwards and forward." Put another way, we are talking about swagger.
Sunday, March 09, 2014
The widely-used phrase "long time, no see" first appeared in print in the early 20th century. But, it may have originated as pidgin English long before becoming American slang.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Citations dating back to 1886 hint that the phrase might come from a Cantonese word.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Being "sold down the river" means you've been betrayed. It used to mean something far worse. NPR's Code Switch traces the history of the phrase and spells out its original meaning in the first half of the 19th century.
Monday, December 23, 2013
We call something that is easily done a "cakewalk." But why? The surprising answer dates back to a dance popular among slaves and plantation owners in the pre-Civil War South.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Zombies populate our books, graphic novels, movies and video games with race and slavery playing an unexpected role. Our national obsession with zombies dates back centuries and can be traced to Haiti. Code Switch examines how the word "zombie" was born and how it has taken a life of its own.
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Jive-talking, jazz-loving "hep cats" from the 1930s and 1940s are the great-grandparents of today's hipsters. The interest of white fans in black music helped fill Harlem's nightclubs and prompted derision. Hipsters were criticized for being the equivalent of a "pretentious poet laureate."
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
The story of how ketchup became a staple in American kitchens tells us much about the history of international trade, taking us from Fujian province to western Europe and ultimately across the Atlantic.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Although the slur today is used mostly in the context of the Caribbean, in the past it was often applied to low-wage, immigrant laborers in the United States.
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
The unexpected story of how the "young men and lads" who "commit acts of violence and mischief" came to be known as hoodlums. The term was first widely used in the 1870s in San Francisco, where gangs often targeted Chinese immigrants.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
For the uninitiated, a "Chinese fire drill" can be described as a form of vehicular musical chairs. Where did that name come from?
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
While "honcho" is often mistakenly believed to have Spanish origins, it actually traces its roots to American soldiers who fought in the Pacific during World War II.
Monday, September 09, 2013
With the start of a new football season comes the renewal of the debate over the Redskins' controversial name. Writer Lakshmi Gandhi takes us through the convoluted history of the word "redskin."
Monday, September 02, 2013
Did the phrase 'Indian Giver' come from a cultural misunderstanding?
Monday, August 26, 2013
Where'd the phrase "Snake Oil Salesman" come from? It conjures up images of seedy profiteers trying to exploit an unsuspecting public by selling them fake cures.