If you’re not using a dictionary to look up puzzling words as you read them, you’re missing out on a whole other level of enjoyment. • When you’re cleaning house, why not clean like there’s literally no tomorrow? The term death cleaning refers to downsizing and decluttering specifically with the next generation in mind. The good news is that older folks find that death cleaning enhances their own lives. • You know when anticipating something has you extremely nervous but also really excited? Is there a single word for that fluttery feeling? • Marrow, a set of twins, skid lid, reckon, vicenarian, miniscule vs. minuscule, and how to pronounce potable. This episode first aired November 11, 2017.
Someone in their 70s is septuagenarian, someone in their 80s is an octogenarian, and someone in their 90s is a nonagenarian. Someone in their 50s is a quinquagenarian, and if they’re in their 40s, they’re a quadragenarian. If they’re between 100 and 110, they’re a centenarian, and older than that, well, congratulations! In that case they’re a supercentenarian.
How do you pronounce the word potable, which means drinkable? A woman in the Navy stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, says most of her fellow sailors pronounce it with a short o, but she pronounces it with a long o. The word derives from Latin potare, meaning to drink, and traditionally the long o sound in the Latin has been preserved in the pronunciation of potable so it sounds something like /POE-tuh-bull/. Increasingly, though, many people pronounce it with a short o, something like /PAH-tuh-bull/, as if assuming that the adjective describes something that might be put in a pot and boiled. This pronunciation is especially common in the military. Potable is a linguistic relative of the word potion, a type of drink, and symposium, from Greek words that literally mean drinking together.
A woman and her 10-year-old daughter are looking for a word that describes being excited but anxious. It’s not exactly twitterpated, and the Southernismlike a worm in hot ashes is vivid, but a phrase and not a single word. If a single word for this feeling exists, maybe it involves butterflies?
Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a quiet quiz involving words that are usually shouted. Suppose, for example, someone said, “Excuse me, Mr. Horse, I’d appreciate it if you stopped. What’s the exclamation suggested by this request?
Skid lid, cage, and backyard are all slang terms from the world of motorcycle enthusiasts. A skid lid is a helmet, a cage is an automobile, and a backyard is a favorite place to ride. The phrase lay it down means to have a motorcyle accident.
Death cleaning is the translation of a Swedish term, döstädning, describing a kind of de-cluttering later in life, when you downsize to make things easier for the next generation. It’s being popularized by The Gentle Art of Death Cleaning by Margareta Mangusson.
A Dallas, Texas, listener is annoyed when he sees a price listed with the dollar sign after the amount, rather than before, as in 500$ rather than $500. In some parts of the world, however, the currency symbol routinely follows the number.
The word stenophagous means eating a limited variety of food. It derives from Greek stenos, meaning narrow, also found in stenography (literally, narrow writing) and stenosis, a medical term for abnormal narrowing.
A nonprofit that promotes literacy in Reno, Nevada, held a spelling bee in which adult competitors were asked to spell words from books in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The author made up some of those words herself. But are they really words if they’re not in the dictionary? Yes, if it’s said or written and has a meaning, it’s a word. The word that took out a lot of the competitors was minuscule, which Rowling used in The Prisoner of Azkaban. In the United States, the word is usually spelled differently: miniscule.
A Bay Area listener says she always giggles when she sees a sign in the Oakland airport that reads, “You are leaving a sterile area.” Among security experts, the term sterile specifically means an area that is officially under control and clear of threats.
This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.
Photo by Peter Dutton. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Books Mentioned in the Episode
Music Used in the Episode
|Kulun Mankwalesh||Mahmoud Ahmed||Ethiopiques 3||Buda Music|
|Lomiwen Teqebeletch||Mahmoud Ahmed||Ethiopiques 3||Buda Music|
|Metche Dershe||Mulatu Astatke||Ethiopiques 4||Buda Music|
|The Old Spot||Clutchy Hopkins Meets Lord Kenjamin||Music Is My Medicine||Ubiquity|
|Temeles||Alemayehu Eshete||Ethiopiques 3||Buda Music|
|Essu New Messelgn||Hirut Beqele||Ethiopiques 3||Buda Music|
|Brother John||Clutchy Hopkins Meets Lord Kenjamin||Music Is My Medicine||Ubiquity|
|Wubit||Mulatu Astatke||New York Addis London||Strut Records|
|Aynamaye||Teferi Felleqe||Ethiopiques 3||Buda Music|
|Sabye||Mulatu Astatke||New York Addis London||Strut Records|
|Volcano Vapes||Sure Fire Soul Ensemble||Out On The Coast||Colemine Records|