P.T. Barnum is quite a character–more on him later. For now, here’s a lovely little Barnum anecdote that doubles as a vocab-building exercise. I’m not sure where I first heard this story, but here’s a version from

Barnum’s American Museum was so popular that people would spend the entire day there. This cut into profits, as the museum would be too full to squeeze another person in. In classic Barnum style, old P.T. put up signs that said “This Way to the Egress.” Many customers followed the signs, not realizing that Egress was a fancy word for “Exit.” They kept on looking for this strange new attraction, the “Egress”. Many patrons followed the signs right out the door! Once they had exited the building, the door would lock behind them, and if they wanted to get back in, they had to pay another admission charge!

Five stars for ingenuity.


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4 responses to “Egress

  1. Barnum was a big contributor to Tufts University and his favorite elephant, Jumbo, was stuffed and kept on display in Barnum Hall on campus. I used to go and rub Jumbo for luck every once in a while. Unfortunately, he burned up in a fire in ’75.

    • evaholtz

      Oh yeah! Two of my sisters are Jumbos, but I had forgotten about that awesome-slash-weird story. Thanks for sharing :)

      • T's J

        Off topic, but I find it fascinating that the written style “option/alternative” made it into spoken language as “option slash alternative” and now has made it full circle back into writing as “awesome-slash-weird”. It’s kinda cool, colon+dash+close-parenthesis.

      • evaholtz

        Love it :)

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