Canada - When a French expedition under Jacques Cartier arrived at the narrows of the St. Lawrence River in 1534, scholars conjecture, its members encountered the Huron-speaking Indians who called the collection of longhouses where they lived kanata, "a gathering of houses" or "village." The French recorded this as "Canada,"" and the name has been in use ever since.
Kalamazoo - For some reason, comedians say, words with a k sound are funnier than words without. "Kalamazoo," the name of the Michigan city, has a slightly unreal, Dr. Seuss sound made more unreal in the old phrase "from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo." The name comes from a Pottawatomie Indian word meaning "boiling water," referring to rapids in the Kalamazoo River.
Mandarin - The official language of China is Putonghua, the Beijing dialect of the language Westerners refer to as "Mandarin." The term comes to us circuitously by way of the Portuguese manarim, which shares a root with the word mentor and means counselor or advisor; the Portuguese borrowed it from Hindi, which in turn took it from Sanskrit. IT may have referred to to the highly bureaucratized Chinese royal government, made up of rank after rank of state counselors and ministers.
woodshed - Musicians use "woodshed" as a verb meaning "to practice." In another old-fashioned phrase, "to be taken to the woodshed" means to be pulled aside for punishment. In both expressions, the ruling idea is that the woodshed, a place were firewood was stored to keep it dry, is a place of privacy where practicing - and punishment - can take place out of the public eye.
OPM - Investment bankers once were the only ones to use this phrase, which means "other people's money," just the thing a bank is in the business of using. The term has since spread beyond the boardroom. Whether vagabonds borrowed it from bankers of the other way around, the old hobo slang term "OPs" meant "other people's cigarettes," something a hobo might beg for.