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Macaroni, tank top, buster, filled to the gills

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December 13th, 2018

Macaroni

It’s a delicious ingredient in more meals than you can count. Whether it’s under cheese, sauce, vegetables, or olive oil and vinegar, “macaroni” is a food that your palate can generally count on. But is its origin as Italian as it sounds?

According to etymologists, the answer is maybe.

Many scholars believe the word comes from the Ancient Greek “makaria,” which was a broth made from barley and served to memorialize the deceased. Yet, exactly how this relates to a noodle isn’t quite clear.

Another theory, however, is that the word does come from Italian and, more specifically, the word “maccheroni,” a derivative of “maccare,” which means to crush.

One of the term’s earliest appearances in a somewhat Anglicized form dates back to the late 1300s as an ingredient called “makerouns,” which were small noodles used in a version of what we now know as macaroni and cheese.

“My favorite dish is macaroni and cheese.”

Tank top

Even as we move into winter, we can dream of warm weather and swimming, which is precisely where we get the name “tank top.” Although men and women wear these sleeveless shirts for just about any casual summer activity, early twentieth century clothing designers created the shape to serve as the top portion of one-piece swimsuits for men.

The label “tank top,” therefore, is a reference to the place where men often wore them: swimming tanks or pools.

“I wear a tank top to mow the lawn when it’s really hot out.”

Buster

Rarely can we pinpoint a word’s origin down to a particular state, but in this case, etymologists are fairly certain “buster” came from the Arkansas/Mississippi region.

Used as a slang variation of “big guy” or “tough guy” (and often in a flippant manner), “buster” appeared as early as 1838 and, to this day, connotes a person’s supposed strength and ability to bust things up.

“Why don’t you come out here and help me, buster!”

Filled to the gills

To breathe, a fish uses slits called “gills,” which are positioned to the rear of each side of its head. On a human, this spot would be in the upper-neck area or below the ears.

And with this figurative association in mind, the saying was born. Someone who eats or drinks an enormous quantity will be “filled to the gills.”

“I was filled to the gills after eating on Thanksgiving.”

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