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Chrysti the Wordsmith

Montanans You Should Know CHRYSTI THE WORDSMITH VERBOPHILE * * * * Raised on a farm in northeastern Montana, Chrysti M. Smith now wrangles words for her daily radio series, “Chrysti the Wordsmith,” produced at KGLT-FM in Bozeman; it can be heard on public radio stations throughout Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and worldwide on Armed Forces Radio. www.wordsmithradio.org   Gr…

Wild West Words: Expressions

Department Heritage WILD WEST WORDS EXPRESSIONS with Chrysti the Wordsmith   Straight from the Horse’s Mouth When we say we got a bit of news “straight from the horse’s mouth,” we mean that we consider the source of the information authoritative and reliable. This expression tempts us to find a story involving, say, a mythical talking equine whose every word is believable…

Wild West Words (Fall 2017)

Department Heritage WILD WEST WORDS with Chrysti the Wordsmith   Boot Hill / Graveyard / Cemetery The remains of assorted forgotten frontier characters repose in Boot Hills scattered throughout the American West. In Montana, Boot Hill graveyards lie a-moldering in Virginia City, Billings, and Powderville, a stop on the stagecoach line from Deadwood to Miles City in th…

Wild West Words (Summer 2018)

Department Heritage   WILD WEST WORDS with Chrysti the Wordsmith   Yogo • Moose  Sioux, Gros Ventre • Cheyenne   –––––––––––––––– Yogo Etymologists have long wrestled with the origins of the word sapphire. English borrowed it directly from the Old French safir, which came from the Latin sapphirus, which came from the Greek sappheiros, which…

Wild West Words: Geyser, Raven, & Powwow

Department Heritage   GEYSER The world’s most famous and viewer-friendly geyser is arguably Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful.  Named for its relatively predictable eruptions, Old Faithful rockets a column of steam and boiling water 100-plus feet in the air approximately every ninety minutes. Old Faithful has at least three hundred companion geysers in the Yellowsto…

Wild West Words: SKIJORING, SKILIGRAPHY & HOARFROST

SKIJORING “The new sport which has lately been introduced at Beloit is skeeing. They are long ash planks... turned up at the end, and are warranted to take down hill quicker than a wink. After some practice performers become very expert, and the speed with which they go is something surprising (Beloit College, Wisconsin, “Round Table,” Dec. 18, 1885).” This is one of the earliest mentions o…

Wild West Words: COFFEE & JOHNNYCAKE

COFFEE  On December 16, 1773, American patriots, protesting British taxation on imported commodities, ruined 92,000 pounds of English tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor.  The infamous “Boston Tea Party” marked the moment when tea fell out of favor with Americans. Almost immediately, drinking coffee became emblematic of patriotism and American autonomy. America’s first coffee ro…

Wild West Words: RANCH, TIPI, & OUTHOUSE

RANCH     What’s your mental image of a ranch?  Perhaps a log house and barns nestled amongst the trees, while nearby graze the cattle and horses of a thousand prairie hills? Whatever your 21st century vision of a ranch might be, it probably doesn’t match the etymological history of the word. Zebulon Pike, U.S. Army general and explorer, was one of the first American …

Wild West Words

Department HeritageWILD WEST WORDSBEE, GRIZZLY, HOMESTEADby Chrysti the Wordsmith* * * * BEEA uniquely American institution, the bee, grew up around the tradition of neighbors uniting in a common task.  The Oxford English Dictionary’s historical database dates the earliest citation of the word bee in this communal context at 1769, in the Boston Gazette. “Last Thursday about twenty young…

Wild West Words: SCALAWAG, GADABOUT & PICTOGRAPH

Department Heritage WILD WEST WORDS SCALAWAG, GADABOUT, PICTOGRAPH by Chrysti the Wordsmith   SCALAWAG Nowadays, a scalawag is little more than a rascal or scamp.  This seemingly innocuous word, however, once had some very sharp teeth. In the post-Civil War South, a scalawag was a local who supported reconstructionary measures, hoping to profit from cooperating with…