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For What It’s Worth

For What It’s Worth: Bankrupt

Our occasional look at the meanings and origins of words and expressions investors may encounter considers the word “bankrupt.” Let’s just say that the process of bankruptcy is a lot more lenient than it used to be. […]

For What It’s Worth: Deadline

A look at the history of a word that sets boundaries. […]

For What It’s Worth: Cold turkey

By Joel Dresang
Sometimes when an individual undergoes an abrupt change, we say they’ve gone “cold turkey.” The expression long applied to drug addicts who tried to quit with little transition. More recently, the phrase has covered wider circumstances, such as moving from work to retirement with little preparation. […]

For What It’s Worth: Squirreling Away

By Joel Dresang
Partly because they’re reluctant to spend, partly because they lack opportunities, U.S. consumers have been squirreling away record mounds of money. They socked away nearly $3 trillion in 2020, a stash that could eventually help quicken economic recovery. In our occasional look at the meanings and origins of financial expressions, we consider slang terms for personal saving. […]

For What It’s Worth: Nickel and dime

By Joel Dresang
Except for rare coins, lesser bits of money tend to get shortchanged not only in our finances but also in our language. Consider such expressions as penny ante, for instance, the lowest of stakes, and bad penny, something you can’t get rid of. Even nickels and dimes have become clumped together as derogatory references. […]

For What It’s Worth: Mortgage

By Joel Dresang
We associate the clause “till death do us part” with a marriage vow. Etymologically, though, it should be part of a mortgage. […]

For What It’s Worth: Circuit breakers

Steep stock sell-offs accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic triggered automatic interruptions meant to let stock traders pause amid pandemonium. So-called circuit breakers are supposed to halt trading at different points of severe stock slides and are byproducts of the historic 22.6% free fall in the Dow Jones Industrial Average in October 1987. […]

For What It’s Worth: Volatility

The word “volatility” describes stock prices taking off then plummeting, soaring like an eagle, then diving like a loon. For What It’s Worth is an occasional look at the meanings and origins of words and expressions investors encounter. […]

For What It’s Worth: Black Friday

The common name for the day after Thanksgiving has more than one story behind it. One story dates back almost to the first national Thanksgiving holiday and has nothing to do with the occasion. Another uses “Black Friday” as a term of disparagement. A third story appears to be just made up. […]

For What It’s Worth: Silver Bullet

The expression “silver bullet” is a conflation of a medical term coined by a Nobel laureate and the calling card of a legendary lawman of the Old West. […]

For What It’s Worth: Skin in the Game

Credit for coining the term “skin in the game” commonly goes to the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. But as wise and quotable as the billionaire is, the internet can easily overattribute him. As Yogi Berra is said to have said, “I never said most of the things I said.” […]

For What It’s Worth: Ballpark

In a nod to the Milwaukee Brewers and their postseason foray, our occasional exploration of the origins of financial expressions takes a swing at a common term that comes from America’s favorite pastime: Ballpark. […]

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