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Episode 1514

Space Cadet

We have books for language-lovers and recommendations for history buffs. • How did the word boondoggle come to denote a wasteful project? The answer involves the Boy Scouts, a baby, a craft project, and a city council meeting. • Instead of reversing...

Counting-Out Rymes for Toes

Susan from Virginia Beach, Virginia, remembers a toe-counting game from her childhood that goes “This toe tight / this penny white / this toe tizzle / this penny wizzle.” She doesn’t recall the rest and has no idea where it came...

Search it Up

Sophia is a 13-year-old from Napierville, Illinois, says she and her peers use the phrase search it up on the internet to mean look it up on the internet. Her mother says it’s look it up or just search it, not search it up. Sophia and her...

Book Recommendations

More book recommendations: For a smart, in-depth look at language change and usage controversies, Martha suggests Talk on the Wild Side: Why Language Can’t Be Tamed by Lane Greene. Grant says his 11-year-old son thoroughly enjoyed all of the...

Bus Number 11

Our conversation about slang terms for traveling by foot prompted an email from Tom in Canton, Texas, who reports that while living in Israel, he used to hear fellow high school students say in Arabic that they were taking bus number 11, the long...