Streams

Lakshmi Gandhi

Lakshmi Gandhi appears in the following:

Unmasking The Meaning And Marital Disputes Behind Mumbo Jumbo

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.

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What Do Jay Z And Shakespeare Have In Common? Swagger

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.

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Who First Said 'Long Time, No See' And In Which Language?

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.

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Quick! What Are The Origins Of 'Chop-Chop'?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Citations dating back to 1886 hint that the phrase might come from a Cantonese word.

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What Does 'Sold Down The River' Really Mean? The Answer Isn't Pretty

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.

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The Extraordinary Story Of Why A 'Cakewalk' Wasn't Always Easy

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.

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Zoinks! Tracing The History Of 'Zombie' From Haiti To The CDC

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.

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Don't You Dare Call Me A Hipster! I, Sir, Am A 'Hep Cat'

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."

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Ketchup: The All-American Condiment That Comes From Asia

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.

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A History Of Indentured Labor Gives 'Coolie' Its Sting

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.

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Where Do 'Hoodlums' Come From? San Francisco

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.

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What's So 'Chinese' About A Chinese Fire Drill?

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?

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Talk To The Head Honcho; He Speaks Japanese

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.

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Are You Ready For Some Controversy? The History Of 'Redskin'

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."

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The History Behind The Phrase 'Don't Be An Indian Giver'

Monday, September 02, 2013

Did the phrase 'Indian Giver' come from a cultural misunderstanding?

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A History Of 'Snake Oil Salesmen'

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.

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