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Where'd it come from? #41

Created date

February 3rd, 2012

Soda jerk

This term comes from the early days of soda, before bottles, cans, and one-touch soda fountains. Indeed, years ago, you didn t have soda in the home. If you wanted a Coke or a Pepsi, you went to the drugstore or an ice cream shop and placed your order with the soda jerk an unfortunate name that derived from the jerking motion of pulling the different levers behind the counter. One was for the carbonated water, the other the syrup that gave it that magical cola flavor. I took my girlfriend down to the drugstore for a soda, where we sat at the counter and placed our order with the soda jerk.

Carpe diem

One of the first lessons you ll receive as a journalist is to avoid Latin. It s complicated and often unclear.Carpe diem, however, is one of the exceptions. It s been used so much that it borders on clich , synonymous with the notion of seizing the day. Nonetheless, it has nothing at all to do with seizing, but rather plucking. More specifically, it means to pluck the day, as though it were a ripe piece of fruit, there for the taking. My father s motto wascarpe diem, which, loosely translated, meant make the most of every day.

Fair and square

Fair and square comes from the department of redundancy department. In 16thcentury parlance, square meant fair or even-handed. To pair fair with square has a pleasing rhyme to it, which is very likely why we use it in spite of its repetitious logic. Joe challenged the other team s victory. But as far as I m concerned, they won fair and square.

Up to snuff

While etymologists are not completely certain about the origin of this phrase, they do know that it refers to tobacco. One theory is that snuff was traditionally used by men of age, mature and wise enough to know quality tobacco when they indulged in it. Over time, the phrase came to refer to those skilled enough to know what they are doing. When installing new lights in your house, make sure that you hire an electrician who is up to snuff on the latest construction codes.