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A Tip From Ben Stiller: On Set, A 'Chicken' Is Not What It Seems

When Ben Stiller hears "chicken in the gate," rarely does he actually present someone with a live chicken.
When Ben Stiller hears "chicken in the gate," rarely does he actually present someone with a live chicken.

Each line of work has its own cryptic code: words and phrases that would baffle any outsider. These terms may sound like nonsense to someone with untrained ears, but to those who operate in a certain world, their meanings are as clear as day.

To get a better handle on some of the stranger things people say at work, All Things Considered is kicking off a new series called "Trade Lingo." It's a quest to mine the jewels of meaning beneath the jargon.

In our first installment, Ben Stiller spoke to NPR's Melissa Block about two of the insider's terms you'll probably hear on a movie set — and just about nowhere else. In one of his examples, Stiller explains "check the gate":

"At the end of every take, once you say, 'Print it, moving on,' they'll say, 'Check the gate.' ... Basically, it's saying that we're finished; and then that gets sometimes, uh, changed into 'chicken in the gate.' "

Hear Stiller's full explanation — and the rest of their conversation — at the audio link, and use the form below to share your own examples of trade lingo. What's the "chicken in the gate" from your line of work?

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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