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A Way with Words Blog

Episode 1571

When Pigs Fly

Don’t move my cheese! It’s a phrase middle managers use to talk about adapting to change in the workplace. Plus, the origin story of the name William, and why it’s Guillermo in Spanish. And a five-year-old poses a question that...

Episode 1570

Cool Beans

If you speak a second or third language, you may remember the first time you dreamed in that new tongue. But does this milestone mean you’re actually fluent? And a couple’s dispute over the word regret: Say you wish you’d been able...

Episode 1592

You Talk Like a Sausage  

Do you refer to your dog or cat as “somebody”? As in: When you love somebody that much, you don’t mind if they slobber. In other words, is your pet a somebody or a something? Also, for centuries, there was little consistency in the...

Rope vs. Line, Sailors vs. Landlubbers

Tim is a rancher, dogsledder, and a former commercial fisherman in Alaska. He’s observed that the words rope and line are used differently in each of those professions depending on context, and using them incorrectly can mark a person as a...

The The New Yorker

Christy, an English teacher from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has an ongoing dispute with her boyfriend about the name of the magazine called The New Yorker: Is it correct to say “Did your copy of the The New Yorker arrive?” Is it really...