Barry Popik’s Site: Great Resource for Origin of Americanisms, Slang, Etc.

I recently discovered, a very interesting language-oriented website! Ever wondered about the origin of the term “Big Apple” used to describe NYC? Well, you will find that information and much more on Mr. Popik’s website.

Here’s the site’s “About” section:

BARRY POPIK is a contributor to the Oxford English DictionaryDictionary of American Regional EnglishHistorical Dictionary of American SlangYale Book of Quotations and Dictionary of Modern Proverbs. Since 1990 he has also been a regular contributor to Gerald Cohen’s Comments on Etymology. He is recognized as an expert on the origins of the terms Big AppleWindy Cityhot dog, hamburger and many other food terms, and he is an editor of the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. He has over 7,000 archived posts (from 1996–2007) of commentary on Americanisms to the American Dialect Society email list, ADS-L. This website, The Big Apple, began in New York City in 2004.

Why Is New York City Called THE BIG APPLE?

Big Apple Night Club Sign (Harlem, NYC)

No, Damon Runyon did not coin it. This splendid term comes from stablehands and the world of horse racing, and did not even originate in NYC. Below is a brief summary in Barry Popik’s own words, and here’s the link for the full story. This summary heads up the source URL:

“The Big Apple” was the catchphrase of New York Morning Telegraph track writer John J. Fitz Gerald in the 1920s. He admitted this twice and it was the name of three of his columns. He picked up the term from African-American (“dusky” he called them) stable hands at the Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, probably on January 14, 1920.  

If you love language and history you will probably be interested in Barry Popik’s website.

How Do I Get Google to See My Site?

This is directed at those who insist on maintaining their own websites, such as myself. While Google supposedly will find your website all by itself, don’t be so sure. It looks like I’ll have to upload a Google identifier that ends in HTML.

Let’s see … how long has it been since I’ve used FTP? And how does that work with WordPress? Will it work with WordPress? It must, but I’m not so sure I can handle this task. Tried yesterday without FTP, no dice. I’ll come back here and report on what I did ….

Why do I list my non-industry jobs below?

… I’ll tell you – I learned something very important in each of them. They are all important to me. While an expert in this field – finding & fixing errors and awkwardness in written material – I treasure being a generalist who can do many other things well. Trust me: you would absolutely want me on your trivia team down at the pub.

It appears that today I’m using my website as a journal. Must be a reason for that. Oh, there’s a story in there somewhere … and as for your story, whether it’s an annual report, a company brochure, a novel or family history, be sure and get a real proofreader + editor to take a look. Though AI may end up taking all our jobs, Grammarly is most definitely not going to do that just yet ….

Confession: I’m still not happy with the WordPress look

That’s all – the site is word-heavy and I need more images, even audio & video. Does this layout answer the seeker’s question soon enough? Honestly, I don’t think so. For speed-readers like me, perhaps. For normal people, probably not.

I still have my Joomla course from Udemy to try and resolve things. Or, I could hire a pro … perhaps that’s the ticket …. End of mini-rant.

Writers, check this out… Dan Brown Online Writing Class

This is very interesting – best-selling author Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code, etc.) offers an online writing course! My goodness! (Uh-oh, Dan, get HTTPS on your site today, as it now says “Not Secure” in the web address bar. Google Overlord gives that the big frownie in search, although the NSA prob’ly doesn’t care.)

Are You a Frustrated Author?

Are you a person who has great ideas and can turn a phrase, but struggles with plot, and the ending? Well, I bet that this class would be a helpful thing for you. In fact, I’m sure it would be a helpful thing FOR ME. Shall I sign up? Very possibly – as soon as I finish editing the book I’m working on now.

Here’s a clip from the webpage:


“In his first-ever online class, best-selling author Dan Brown teaches you his step-by-step process for turning ideas into page-turning novels.”

I think that’s the whole issue – the process. It is a process. Now, in school I used to write papers without an outline. They were perfect. I did the outline LAST. However, today I’m gonna need a process. Know your strengths & weaknesses and use both – it’s the way to get things done.

And once you finish your work, be ye Dan Brown himself, a writer not-yet-published, the cat lady down the street, a financial analyst, commercial fisherman, or set-trippin’ banger, each of you – EACH of YOU – shall require a proofreader/editor. You’re welcome – my email address is

What’s in a Name: The “Dummies” Book Series

This is simple commentary, a rant if you will. I believe that the name “Dummies” used by publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. is just a heinous word choice. It bothered me when I first noticed the For Dummies series (early ’90s?) and it bothers me today. Yes, I feel better letting the world know.

Looking up a Russian phrase yesterday, a top result was found at Are you kidding me? Using the word dummies to refer to students and seekers of knowledge – or to anyone – is just ugly. I hadn’t known they’d expanded so much. I didn’t even imagine them being “on the internet.” /rolleyes//bigtime/

It bothers me so much, it would probably be impossible for me to do any work for them. How ’bout that.

If consulted, I’d have advised them: Don’t do it – but then they didn’t ask me. However, for word/naming implications and word-work in general, you can certainly ask me:

Usage Tip: Limit Use of the Exclamation Point

First off, a confession: In reading over my past posts here on the blog, I see I rely too much on the exclamation point. Shall I go back and clip some out? I think I shall. Now, in personal writing, in email correspondence (even with clients) I am heavy on the exclamation points – and that’s entirely OK.

HOWEVER, in business writing, academic writing, advertising – in any type of writing that an audience will see – do limit use of this helpful punctuation mark. It is easy for enthusiastic people to flog the reader with too-frequent exclamation points. This is truly a case where less is more, and it’s related to the “pet word” phenomenon, where a writer absolutely uses a favorite word so much that it’s a distraction. And what’s our goal? NO DISTRACTIONS. You know where I’m going ….

Sure, read over your own work and see if you’re doing this. For a professional assessment of your “!!” tendencies, contact me at and we can talk about it.

Make an Anagram – Fun Word Tool

Are you stuck in naming a character, or getting otherwise crafty in your writing project? Well, this fun tool (or toy) might spur some imagination. Make an anagram, i.e., crank out new words or names using all letters in your initial word. You’ll get multiple results – a long list of anagrams – not just one word or name.

The brief site intro says:

“Use the Anagram Generator to create anagrams by rearranging letters in a name, word or phrase to make a new word or phrase. The anagram maker uses all of the original letters. Use the Anagram Name Generator to make a name anagram from any name using words from the dictionary and common proper nouns.”

Have fun … and you’re welcome. 🙂

And yes, you still need a proofreader/editor … contact

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