'In the nick of time' means, at the critical or precise moment.
The expression is about three centuries old, formed when someone added 'of time' to the older expression, 'in the nick', which meant the same thing.
A nick is a groove, a notch, as made with a sharp knife when one cuts a 'V' in a stick of wood. It expresses precision more accurately than a notch so formed.
Submitted by Helena Williams Mccartney (23), London, United Kingdom
Why is a rundown section of town with cheap bars called skid row?
American English has evolved some pretty colorful and often harsh words and expressions to describe activities and places
connected to down-and-outers. Bums, for example, drink rotgut (cheap wine or liquor) in flophouses.
Skid row suggests a place where people have slipped after losing their footing in life. Metaphorically that's
accurate, but the literal reference is more specific. It began as skid road, which comes from the northwest: timber
country. This was the road over which lumbermen dragged logs - sometimes that road consisted of greased logs - to a
skidway, down which the timber slid to a river.
Skid road was also what loggers called the rough part of town where they took their pleasure on Saturday night.
If you lived or hung out there full time, you were not in good shape. The expression seems to have become skid row sometime around World War II.
Submitted by DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN SLANG (),
Why do we say that something unchangeable is ingrained?
Wood . . . er, would you believe that the origin of the word ingrained has nothing to do with that which comes from trees?
I hope that you're so curious now that you're dyeing, er dying to know the real source of ingrained.
Here goes: it starts with the Latin word granum, meaning a small seed or grain. The Romans
also used the word to describe a tiny insect the size of such a seed from which they
extracted an indelible red dye. This dye, in Old French, was called graine. Medieval
English adapted this to in graine, meaning something indelibly dyed. From there it took on
its metaphorical meaning of an unchanging characteristic.
If this is too rich for you, just say "permanent." It means the same thing.
Submitted by John Ciardi (),
Know the Queen's English Language!
The longest one-syllable word in the English language is 'screeched'.
'Underground' is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters 'und'.
'Dreamt' is the only English word that ends in the letters 'mt'.
The symbol in the 'pound' key (#) is called an octothorpe.
The dot over the letter 'i' is called a tittle.
The word 'set' has more definitions than any other word in the English language.
There are only four words in the English language which ends in '-dous': tremendous, horrendous, stupendous and hazardous.
Submitted by Amanda Matthews (24), Scotland
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