© 2020 Iowa Public Radio
IPR20012_Website_Header_Option2_NewsNavy.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Word Maven: Common Name Idioms

f4d5002ba7204e9007ab6e90e98e027d.jpg
Lifehacker
A Jack of all trades

Whether you’re a Johnny-come-lately, a Jack of all trades, or a Tom, Dick and Harry, you’ve likely encountered idioms like these. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with word maven Patricia O’Conner about the colloquial phrases that have immortalized common names.

Some phrases, such as "great Scott," date back to real people or historical figures. Many of these naming idioms are much older than we might think, with some dating back to the 1600s or before. 

"Colloquialisms do show up in speech before writing," O'Conner says. 

O'Conner also weighs in on our use (and misuse) of the English language and answers listener questions.