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15 Excellent Bits of Carnival Slang to Add to Your Vocabulary

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Even if you’ve never worked on a midway, you can still pepper your speech with delightfully authentic carnival jargon. Start slipping these terms into conversation and watch as your friends bally about how great talking to you is.

1. Annie Oakley (noun): A meal ticket.

2. Bally (verb): To attract a crowd by making a great commotion about how terrific a show is.

3. Brodie (noun): A clumsy and spectacular fall. Named for Steve Brodie, a man who claimed to have survived a fall from the Brooklyn Bridge in 1886.

4. Charivari (noun): A cacophonous and chaotic entrance of clowns.

5. Charley (verb): To toss a stack of posters or playbills in the trash rather than giving them away as ordered.

6. Cherry pie (noun): Outside work performed by carnival employees for extra cash.

7. Clem (noun): A fight between carnival employees.

8. Duke (noun): A box lunch distributed to carnival staff.

9. Kinker (noun): Any performer, but originally intended for acrobats.

10. G-top (noun): Private employee tent for gambling.

11. Larry (adjective): Poorly made, worthless, bad (of items or souvenirs).

12. Lead joint (noun): Shooting gallery.

13. Reuben (noun): A rube or a gullible sap.

14. Scram-bag (noun): A bag packed for immediate use in case a quick departure is required.

15. Waxie (noun): A repairman.

[Sources: Dictionary of American Slang (1965); GoodMagic.com]

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Words
How New Words Become Mainstream
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If you used the words jeggings, muggle, or binge-watch in a sentence 30 years ago, you would have likely been met with stares of confusion. But today these words are common enough to hold spots in the Oxford English Dictionary. Such lingo is a sign that English, as well as any other modern language, is constantly evolving. But the path a word takes to enter the general lexicon isn’t always a straightforward one.

In the video below, TED-Ed lays out how some new words become part of our everyday speech while others fade into obscurity. Some words used by English speakers are borrowed from other languages, like mosquito (Spanish), avatar (Sanskrit), and prairie (French). Other “new” words are actually old ones that have developed different meanings over time. Nice, for example, used to only mean silly, foolish, or ignorant, and meat was used as blanket term to describe any solid food given to livestock.

The internet alone is responsible for a whole new section of our vocabulary, but even the words most exclusive to the web aren’t always original. For instance, the word meme was first used by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

To learn more about the true origins of the words we use on a regular basis, check out the full story from TED-Ed below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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language
The Evolution of "Two" in the Indo-European Language Family
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The Indo-European language family includes most of the languages of Europe as well as many languages in Asia. There is a long research tradition that has shown, though careful historical comparison, that languages spanning a huge linguistic and geographical range, from French to Greek to Russian to Hindi to Persian, are all related to each other and sprung from a common source, Proto-Indo-European. One of the techniques for studying the relationship of the different languages to each other is to look at the similarities between individual words and work out the sound changes that led from one language to the next.

This diagram, submitted to Reddit by user IronChestplate1, shows the word for two in various Indo-European languages. (The “proto” versions, marked with an asterisk, are hypothesized forms, built by working backward from historical evidence.) The languages cluster around certain common features, but the words are all strikingly similar, especially when you consider the words for two in languages outside the Indo-European family: iki (Turkish), èjì (Yoruba), ni (Japanese), kaksi (Finnish), etc. There are many possible forms two could take, but in this particular group of languages it is extremely limited. What are the chances of that happening by accident? Once you see it laid out like this, it doesn’t take much to put *dwóh and *dwóh together.

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