Phrase Origins Quiz
April 2022

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This phrase, frequently used in business, was inspired by this creative thinking puzzle.  The challenge is to connect the dots with four straight lines without lifting the pencil from the paper. Can you solve the puzzle and guess the phrase?

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The phrase is:  Think outside the box

Keeping within the boundaries of the box is a restriction created by the players themselves. Similarly, real-world problems can sometimes be solved with creative thinking that removes artificial constraints.

Phrase Origins Quiz
March 2022

Image by Till Kraus

In World War II, when the Soviet Union invaded Finland, the Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs claimed in radio broadcasts that the Soviet Union was delivering food to the starving Finns rather than dropping bombs on them. The Finns dubbed the handmade explosives they used to retaliate with the last name of the foreign minister.

The phrase is:  Molotov cocktails

Vyacheslav Molotov was the name of the Soviet People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs. The Finns started calling the Soviet air bombs Molotov breadbaskets and felt the “food” deserved a decent cocktail to accompany it.

 

The name Molotov translates to “hammer.”

Word Origins Quiz
February 2022

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Elbridge Gerry became governor of Massachusetts in 1810. He approved the legislature’s creation of an odd, snake-shaped voting district intended to favor his party in future elections. A political cartoonist mocked the situation by drawing a district in the shape of a salamander. The editor renamed the shape, and the word caught on.

The word is:  Gerrymander

Word Origins Quiz
January 2022

Image by Mathyas Kurmann

From a Mexican Spanish word of the same spelling that originally meant “calm sea,” which signaled good fortune for fishermen. In English, in the first part of the 1800s, the usage was extended to mining and applied to a different type of good providence, initially meaning “a very large mineral deposit.” The definition broadened over time until it acquired its current meaning in the 20th century, “sudden wealth or luck.”

The word is:  Bonanza