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February 9, 2006
Slang of the Week: cup of Joe/cuppa Joe (noun phrase)
cup of coffee

Example:
After a long night of driving, Sam needed a cup of Joe and a strong one, so he headed for the Diesel Café on Elm St.

Celebrity quote:
“When I wake up in my house
I get dressed then I get lost
I don't know which way to go
I guess I'll have a cup of Joe.”
-4 Non Blondes on the song No Place Like Home

I suspect that the Slang City headquarters, here in Davis Square, Somerville (MA) are at the epicenter of New England caffeine consumption. With the addition of one more last month, there are now nine coffee shops within a five minute walk of our offices. The astonishing availability of java here is such that one half expects to see the residents shaking with the caffeine jitters at every street corner.

An online article at the State Library of North Carolina attributes the expression to one of their favorite sons, Josephus Daniels. While Secretary of the Navy (1913-1921) he decided that beer and wine had no place on naval ships, leaving the sailors to drink a cup of Joe (for Josephus) instead.

While that may or may not be the source of the phrase, I discovered that coffee can be a lifesaver on a navy ship. In a 1998 issue of Naval History Magazine, John Powell Riley Jr. explains how going below decks for a cup of coffee saved his life from a kamikaze attack in 1944. I think that’s a sure sign that despite our proximity to a major airport, Davis Square will always be protected against any airborne dangers.

What’s new at Slang City?
I wish I knew how to quit you.” Translated quotes from the Oscar nominated film Brokeback Mountain. (Warning: adult themes.)