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Archive2017

Naked as a Jaybird

What’s the best way for someone busy to learn lots of new words quickly for a test like the GRE? Looking up their origins can help. Or, record yourself reading the words and definitions and play them back while you’re doing other chores...

Hot Dog, Cold Turkey

Why do we call a frankfurter a hot dog? It seems an unsettling 19th-century rumor is to blame. Also, if someone quits something abruptly, why do we say they quit cold turkey? This term’s roots may lie in the history of boxing. Plus, a...

Brand Spanking New

Take a look back at some notable words and phrases from 2017: Remember path of totality? How about milkshake duck? Also, a committee has to choose a new mascot for a school’s sports teams. They want to call them the Knights, as in the fighters...

Joe Moore Mojo

A listener in Enterprise, Alabama, recalls that when a storm was approaching his grandfather would say “It’s going to come up a Joe Moore.” The slang term Joe Moore comes from the word mojo, meaning a magic spell or magic power. By...

Sports Dictionaries for Radio Readers

The KPBS Radio Reading Service provides audio recordings of daily newspapers for the visually impaired. A volunteer who reads for the service has trouble understanding some of the jargon from the sports pages. Good references for the language of...