neither confirm nor deny / Glomar response

When a US government official neither confirms nor denies the existence of a classified program it is called a Glomar response or a Glomar denial. This label has its origins in one of the most fascinating incidents of the Cold War between the US and the USSR, but the wording neither confirm nor deny is much, much older, dating to at least 1840.

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Glomar Response / neither confirm nor deny

See neither confirm nor deny

Uncle Sam

The United States government is often referred to as Uncle Sam, and the most famous image of Uncle Sam is James Montgomery Flagg’s WWI recruiting poster. But Uncle Sam was not the creation of Flagg. The term predates Flagg’s poster by over a century.

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measles

The measles is a potentially fatal disease caused by a Morbillivirus, and it is one of the most highly contagious diseases that infect humans. The disease, once rendered rare in the industrialized world, has made a comeback in recent years, largely due to low rates of vaccination. But the name measles is an odd one with an innocuous connotation that belies how dangerous the disease really is. Where does the name measles come from?

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tweetzkrieg

Tweetzkrieg is an alternative name for what is more commonly called a Twitterstorm, a flurry of activity about a trending topic on the social media platform Twitter. But unlike a Twitterstorm, which can be an unorganized response to a tweet or news item, a Tweetzkrieg is often deliberately generated by a single person or group. Tweetzkrieg is, quite obviously, modeled on blitzkrieg, the German WWII-era strategy of a combined arms assault using infantry, armor, artillery, and airpower. The word isn’t terribly common, but it has been around for over ten years.

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D-Day, H-Hour

D-Day is the name for 6 June 1944, when Allied troops landed on the coast of German-occupied France during World War II. It was the largest seaborne invasion in history, with over 150,000 American, British, and Canadian troops landing in Normandy, including 23,000 airborne paratroopers, and involving almost 7,000 ships, boats, and landing craft. But it turns out that the term itself is older, dating to another war, and it is also something of a redundancy.

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H-Hour, D-Day

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Saracen

Saracen is term for a Muslim that is primarily used historically to refer to Muslims during the medieval period and especially in reference to the Crusades. But it dates to antiquity, long before Islam arose as a religion, and its original sense was much more circumscribed. Its correct etymology isn’t all that interesting, but it does have a fascinating false etymology that circulated widely in Europe during the medieval period.

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Mecca

Mecca is a place name, a toponym, that has acquired a figurative meaning over the years. Literally, it is a city in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad, to which devout Muslims are required to undertake a pilgrimage to at some point in their lives. Figuratively, it is used to refer to any place that attracts a certain group of people or that is the center of their activity, as in, Las Vegas is a Mecca for gamblers or the new mall is a mecca for shoppers. The pilgrimage metaphor underlying the figurative sense is obvious, but when did the sense develop?

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Judeo-Christian

Judeo-Christian has two main meanings. The first is a historical one, referring to the early Christian church made up of converted Jews, primarily in Jerusalem, in contrast to the Pauline churches made up of Gentiles that were scattered across the eastern Mediterranean. The second, and today more common, meaning refers to the common ethical and cultural values of Judaism and Christianity. This second meaning originally grew out of desire for inclusivity, but the term Judeo-Christian is now increasingly used to exclude other religions.

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