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April 10, 2003

Slang of the Week: catch on (verb phrase)
1. become fashionable 2. understand

Celia’s husband finally caught on when he noticed the children all looked more like the milkman than him.
I hope picture phones don’t catch on, because then I’ll have to brush my hair more often.

Celebrity quote:
“The metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the nine-millimeter bullet.”
-Syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry.

Well, we do have the 2-liter Coke bottle, but Barry is right about the metric system here. Perhaps we just like making life difficult for our children by forcing them to divide everything by twelve instead of ten. Fortunately, we get a lot of mileage (use or advantage) out of our strange system of measurement in slang.

For example, if you’re negotiating a raise with your boss, you should never give an inch (don’t make even a small compromise). Ask for the whole nine yards (everything). If he offers you a 20% salary increase, tell him you wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole (wouldn’t even consider it).

Of course, this may cause him to think you’re as dumb as a two by four (really stupid – and by the way, a 2”x4” is a piece of cut wood that is not actually two by four inches, another mystery of our system). That might make him fire you, which will give you the opportunity to tell him you wish he were six feet under (dead and buried) in God’s acre (a cemetery).

Please note that this is just an example. We at Slang City do not recommend using such language at your workplace, and will not consider ourselves responsible if you do.

What’s new at Slang City?
How can you tell if someone is a king? Find out in translations of some classic movie quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Princess Bride.