The jaded user is myself. The new contributor is (was) Replica Foxtrot who posted this question

What does the phrase 'Putting the Spring' mean?

I am reading the book about the Simpsons and I don't understand this line 'Putting the Spring in Springfield'. Can anyone please explain to me what does it mean?

After several exchanges between myself and Replica Foxtrot, the user adds the research, adds the effort, and explains what they think the sentence means.

I retract my vote to close the question, and upvote it. We now have a half decent question

What does the phrase 'Putting the Spring in Springfield' mean?

I am reading the book about the Simpsons and I don't understand this line

'Putting the Spring in Springfield'.

The line is the title of chapter from the book. I suppose the line 'put the spring' means breathing life or revival or something like that. Regarding the meaning of the word 'spring', it means grow out, put out, bubble up or occur. I am not sure whether I'm right or not, so that's why I'm here. Does it mean breathing life to Springfield? Can anyone please explain to me what does it mean?

Link: https://deadhomersociety.com/zombiesimpsons/

One minute later a mod closes it for being POB and adds this comment

Avoid asking what a text or utterance means. Interpretation requests (criticism, discussion, analysis, and divining the author’s intent) are out of scope and may be removed. This applies to all English texts and utterances, including (but not limited to) song lyrics, poetry, and legal documents. See: “What topics can I ask about here? - Help Center

If that question is POB then they have to explain why this question isn't also POB.
What does “all senses cocked” mean?

This is a comment I left beneath Yoichi's post (now self-deleted because copied here verbatim)

@MetaEd why is this question not POB but What does the phrase 'Putting the Spring in Springfield' mean? is? Look at the title, same wording. Basically, you have two non-native speakers asking about the meaning of a phrase. But one gets closed while the other remains open. Sorry, Yoichi I have nothing against your question

P.S some of the comments between myself and Foxtrot were deleted. I didn't flag any, and I don't think the new user did but maybe they did. I don't know. I said their question lacked research, effort and for that I had voted to close it. I also added that unfortunately their question was one of many spoon-feed questions that are being posted, probably by 16-year-olds. Initially, newcomer wasn't pleased, said I had to push my ego down, I understood that reaction but at the same time I wasn't offended, so we got talking. Success, they improved the question.

End result? The question gets closed and Replica Foxtrot is going to ask their question on Reddit.


Can we please reopen the question?


The question has been reopened. Thank you to everyone.

  • 6
    This here is why people like you are so needed on EL&U. Theme changes are just eye-candy (that's being generous to the recently-mooted theme changes); it's when the community welcomes and engages with visitors that they are more inclined to join the community.
    – Lawrence
    Sep 2, 2018 at 23:49
  • 2
    BTW, this is featured on our new Facelift as a HOT META POST! Congratulations! Sep 4, 2018 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


I'll just limit myself to being transparent about why I did what I did, and leave it to the community to either leave things as is, or reopen one or close the other.

We want to collect definitive facts about what English words and phrases mean, when a good dictionary or thesaurus is inadequate. The "what topics" help page invites questions about the meanings of words, provided the asker has already looked them up and is still puzzled.

But we do not want to collect opinions about what an author meant by a particular utterance. The same "what topics" help page discourages requests for literary criticism and analysis of texts, and we have consistently closed such questions.

So this creates a boundary, maybe with a gray area, between two kinds of "meaning" questions:

  • those which are possible to answer correctly, adding new true facts to our collection of facts about the English language, and are more the domain of English language experts, and
  • those which are a matter of opinion or personal interpretation, and are more the domain of writers, poets, and literary critics.

To me, the question about "Putting the Spring in Springfield" boiled down to interpretation: what did the author intend by this.

But the question about "all senses cocked" boiled down to facts: is that an idiom in the English language and if so what is its meaning.

  • So if user Replica Foxtrot had asked "Is this a common phrase?" or "Is this an English idiom?" that would have been a question based on fact?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 30, 2018 at 22:18
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    I think so. The answer might have been "no", but that would still have been a factual answer.
    – MetaEd
    Aug 30, 2018 at 22:19
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    You know why I posted on meta? Because I tried to help a new contributor, I explained why the question was poor, I explained they had to show some research and they took on board my suggestions, then one minute later you close it.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 30, 2018 at 22:20
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    Yoichi explained that he looked up the phrase in several dictionaries and didn't find any references that suggested "all senses cocked" was a typical phrase. That was then the answer. No, it wasn't. Because he asked what was the meaning of the phrase in the title, he didn't understand what the author was saying. How is that any different from Replica Foxtrot asking what the author meant by "Putting the Spring in Springfield"? Which, by the way, is a common way to play around with words such as putting "putting the fun in funeral" and "putting the can in cancer" See Feltz answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 30, 2018 at 22:29
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    I found a new one "putting the laughter in slaughter"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 30, 2018 at 22:32
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    @Mari-LouA What about "Putting the lose in close" :P
    – Laurel Mod
    Aug 31, 2018 at 0:50
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    @Mari-LouA there's also "putting the fun in dysfunctional". :-)
    – Hellion
    Aug 31, 2018 at 13:50
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    I have to say I very much disagree with your judgment call on this one and agree with the question’s reopening. The question boils down not to interpretation (except inasmuch as any meaning of any word or utterance in any context is always subject to the recipient’s interpretation), but to the denotational meaning of the words, i.e., facts. The author’s intention behind the phrasing is certainly relevant; but the fact that it’s a play on a well-known formula and the meaning of ‘spring’ in this context are both quite factual and definitely on-topic. Sep 1, 2018 at 11:45
  • I managed to construct exactly 3 meanings to "putting the spring in Springfield" from the 3 plausible definitions of spring: building a spring factory, building an artesian well, and revitalizing the down. The immediate context will certainly reduce the number of meanings to 1.
    – Joshua
    Sep 12, 2018 at 18:34

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