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National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 1998 –  

Where does the term "a feather in your cap" originate?

It comes from the ancient custom of placing a feather in a soldier's cap for every enemy killed.

 

Why are aircraft storage buildings called "hangars" when planes don't actually hang in them?

The word comes from the 16th century French "angar", which is an open shed for storing plows and similar objects. The French term is derived from the Latin "angarium" for "shed" or "stable."

 

How did the term "a cup of Joe" come to refer to coffee?

Coffee became the strongest drink aboard ships when Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels abolished the officers' wine mess in 1913.

 

Who were the original "free lancers"?

Medieval knights who owed allegiance only to themselves and anyone willing to pay for their military services -- their "lances."

 

Where did the saying "devil to pay" come from?

The "devil" on a wooden ship is the longest seam on the hull, and "pay" is the tar used for caulking. Squatting in the bilges "paying the devil" was an unpleasant task.

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