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Chocolate Gravy

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Say you have an acquaintance you always see at the dog park or the playground. But one night, you run into them at the movies, and for a moment, it’s confusing. Is there a word for that disorienting sense of someone or something being out of place? Yes! Plus: the term sea change doesn’t have to do with winds changing direction on the surface of the sea. It’s a kind of profound transformation that Shakespeare wrote about. Also, Martha and Grant have recommendations for the book lovers on your gift list, plus titch, chocolate gravy, the overview effect, the cat’s pajamas, snot otters, and zoomies. This episode first aired December 3, 2016.

Lingo by Gaston Dorren

  The book Lingo, by Dutch linguist and journalist Gaston Dorren, is an enjoyable whirlwind tour of languages throughout Europe.

Word For Being Out of Place

  An anachronism is something that’s placed in the wrong time period, like a Roman soldier wearing Birkenstocks. But what’s the word for if someone or something is literally out of place geographically speaking? You can use the word anatopism, from a Greek word for “place or region” or anachorism, from a different Greek word for “place, field, or village.”

Found vs. Establish

  An eighth-grade history teacher from Denton, Texas, is teaching about colonial America, and wonders if there’s a difference between the phrases to found a colony or establish a colony.

Think and Grin

  The “Think and Grin” section of Boy’s Life magazine has some pretty corny jokes, including one about a parking space.

A Titch

  The word titch means “a small amount,” and is most likely just a variant of touch.

Long Synonym Quiz

  Quiz Guy John Chaneski offers a game that involves finding the synonym with the most syllables. For example, one synonym for the word dumb is vacuous. But can you think of another that has five syllables?

Chocolate Gravy

  A listener in San Antonio, Texas, has fond memories of chocolate gravy over biscuits, the word gravy in this sense having nothing to do with a meat-based sauce. Grant shares his mother’s own recipe, which she calls cocoa gravy.

Overview Effect

  Overview effect refers to the cognitive shift in awareness and sense of awe experienced by astronauts who observe Earth from space. The term also inspired the title of Benjamin Grant’s new book, Overview: A New Perspective of Earth, a collection of spectacular images culled from satellite photographs.

Pronunciation of Caribbean

  Where does the accent fall in the word Caribbean? Most English speakers stress the second syllable, not the third. The word derives from the name of the Caribs, also the source of the word cannibal.


  The Italian word ponte means “bridge,” as in the Ponte Vecchio of Florence. In Italian, ponte now also denotes the Monday or Friday added to make for a long weekend. Other languages, such as German and Spanish, also make a similar use of their words meaning “bridge.”

Sea Change Meaning and Origin

  A sea change is a profound transformation, although some people erroneously use it to mean a slight shift, as when winds change direction on the surface of the ocean. In reality, the term refers to the kind of change effected on something submerged in salt water, as in Ariel’s song from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Book Recommendations

  It’s book recommendation time! Grant recommends the Trenton Lee Stewart series for young readers, starting with The Mysterious Benedict Society. Martha praises Ronni Lundy’s Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes, a love letter to the cuisine, folkways, history, and language of Appalachia.

Wall Hole for Evil Spirits

  A San Antonio, Texas, listener lives in a house built by his grandfather, who was from Finland. The house has a small window in an upper corner that supposedly was designed to ensure that evil spirits could escape from the house. He thinks it’s called a grum hole. Ever heard of it?

Joshing You

  Why do we say I’m just joshing you? Was there a Josh who inspired this verb?

Snot Otter

  A snot otter is a kind of salamander.

The Cat’s Pajamas

  The cat’s pajamas, denoting something excellent, arose in the 1920’s along with many similarly improbable phrases involving animals and their anatomy or possessions, including the gnat’s elbow, the eel’s ankles, and the elephant’s instep.

Animal Zoomies

  What do you call it when your dog or cat suddenly turns into a blur of fur, racing through the house? Trainers and behaviorists call those frenetic random activity periods or FRAPs. Other people just call them zoomies.

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

Photo by Richard Link. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Books Mentioned in the Episode

Overview: A New Perspective of Earth
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes

Music Used in the Episode

Time Is The EnemyQuanticThe 5th ExoticTru Thoughts
TropicosoJungle FireTropicosoNacional Records
Spring Tank FireQuantic1000 WattsTru Thoughts
A Life Worth LivingQuantic1000 WattsTru Thoughts
CulebroJungle FireTropicosoNacional Records
Homeward BoundQuantic1000 WattsTru Thoughts
Painting SilhouettesQuantic1000 WattsTru Thoughts
Volcano VapesSure Fire Soul EnsembleOut On The CoastColemine Records

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