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By a Long Shot

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Imagine telling someone how to get to your home, but without using the name of your street, or any other street within ten miles. Could you do it? We take street names for granted, but these words are useful for far more, like applying for a job or bank loan — and they’re a powerful record of who and what we value. Plus, a third-grader asks why the first episode of a TV series is often called a “pilot.” And: the story of the word “dashboard,” from muddy roads to computer screens. All that, plus nanomoon, not by a long shot vs. not by a long chalk, layovers to catch meddlers, proc, don’t buy the hype, do it for the hywl, and a cheesy quiz flecked with puns, and more.

This episode first aired June 26, 2021. It was rebroadcast the weekend of June 11, 2022.

Do it for The Hwyl

  The new movie Dream Horse tells a true story that takes place in a tiny Welsh village. A bartender tries to breed a championship racehorse and persuades her neighbors to chip in. They agree, they say, because they want to do it for the hwyl. The Oxford English Dictionary defines hwyl this way: “an emotional quality which inspires and sustains impassioned eloquence; also, the fervour of emotion characteristic of gatherings of Welsh people.”

Long Shot vs. Long Chalk

  Peter from Camden, New Jersey, wonders about the phrases not by a long chalk and not by a long shot. The former is used in the United Kingdom, while the latter is commonly used in the United States. Both suggest the idea of missing a mark by a considerable amount.

The Most Common Street Name in the United States

  What’s the most common street name in the United States? Hint: It’s not Main Street or Third Street. It’s also not First Street. You’ll find the answer, along with lots of other fascinating information, in The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by attorney and essayist Deirdre Mask.

Why are First Episodes of Television Shows Called Pilots?

  A third-grader in San Diego, California, wants to know why the first episode of a television series is often titled Pilot.


  Nanomoon is a neologism promoted by the wedding industry to mean “an especially short honeymoon” such as a quick trip to a nearby national park, that’s taken by a frugal couple in hopes of saving for a longer one later.

Cheesy Pun Word Game

  Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a cheesy puzzle with punny answers to rival the funk of week-old Limburger (or is that another name for a plant-based burger?). For example, if you don’t trust that suspicious guy behind the cheese counter, you may fret that he’s up to no…what?

The Origin of the Word “Hype”

  Valerie from Los Angeles, California, is curious about the admonition don’t buy the hype. Don’t buy the hype about the word hyperbole, though, because that’s likely not the source of the word “hype.”

Adynatons from Stevie Wonder

  Stevie Wonder’s 1976 hit “As” includes a long list of adynatons, those fanciful statements about impossible events that are used for rhetorical effect.

Video Game Jargon “Proc”

  Brian from Washington, D.C., wonders about the term proc. It’s used by video-game enthusiasts to refer to an event triggered by particular circumstances or actions. Proc can also be used as a verb, and apparently derives from spec_proc, a programmers’ term for “special procedure.”

Communicating With Addresses — and Why Not Having an Address Is a Problem

  Imagine trying to tell someone how to get to your home without using the name of your street, or for that matter, the names of any other nearby streets. That challenge makes you realize just how much we take for granted the words we use to tell someone our location. The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power examines the many different implications of street addresses, including the struggle to reckon with street names in post-Nazi Germany, the controversy over avenues named for Confederate generals, the vanity addresses available for a price in New York City, the implications of being unaddressed when applying for a job or bank loan, and much more. Written by Deirdre Mask, it’s a wide-ranging and enlightening read.

Layers to Catch Meddlers

  Anna from Columbia, Mississippi, wonders about a phrase she heard as a youngster from her dad: leyores to catch meddlers or leyores to catch meddlers. Sometimes when she’d ask what he was doing, he’d respond with that cryptic saying, indicating that whatever he was doing, it was none of her business. Over the last 350 years, this expression was passed between generations and locations, particularly in the American South, resulting in at least 70 different versions. Variations of the first element include lareovers, layers, layovers, layovers, coppers, larobes, popovers, rows, rearovers, rareovers, a Pharaoh, a so-and-so, and a marrow. Sometimes the phrase expands in the other direction, as in lareovers for meddlers and crutches for lame ducks, and sometimes “meddlers” is spelled “medlars.” Other snarky answers from parents to children’s inquiries about what they’re doing include: I’m making a swinkle-swankle for a goose’s nightcap, or I’m making a silver new-nothing to put on your shoes. Other tongue-in-cheek craft projects include a whipple for a deuce’s poke, a hootenanny for a skywampus, and a fimfaddle to tie up the moon. In Anna’s case, her father sometimes answered her questions with the statement I’m writing a book. When she asked what it was about, he’d say We’ll make it a mystery and leave that chapter out of it.

Dashboards, From Wagons to Digital Screens

  Gerald from Gaspee Point, Rhode Island, wants to know the story behind the term dashboard. Originally a dashboard was wood or leather placed at the front in horse-drawn vehicles to keep the driver and passengers from being dashed with mud, water, or snow. Later dashboard was transferred to the front inside panel of a car with gauges and controls, and eventually to a digital panel on a computer screen that helps monitor data and other features.

Another Country Heard From

  Another country heard from is a joking remark you may hear after a baby squalls. The original phrase, another county heard from, was used in the 19th century to announce election results as they slowly trickled in.

This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.

Book Mentioned in the Episode

The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by Deirdre Mask

Music Used in the Episode

Deep GullyThe Outlaw Blues BandBreaking InBluesway
Bridge Over Troubled WaterQuincy JonesGula MatariA&M Records
Nose JobJames BrownAin’t It FunkyKing Records
My Baby’s Left and GoneThe Outlaw Blues BandBreaking InBluesway
Oliloqui ValleyHerbie HancockEmpyrean IslesBlue Note
Funky DrummerJames BrownFunky Drummer 45King Records
Volcano VapesSure Fire Soul EnsembleOut On The CoastColemine Records

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