Sharpen those pencils! Martha and Grant are doing crossword puzzles on the air again, preparing for their appearance with NPR Puzzlemaster Will Shortz at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in New York City.

This episode first aired February 23, 2008.

Download the MP3.

 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament
Sharpen those pencils! Martha and Grant are doing crossword puzzles on the air again, preparing for their appearance with NPR Puzzlemaster Will Shortz at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in New York City.

 Plum
An Atlanta native wants to know why she and her fellow Southerners grew up using the word plum, as in “plum tuckered out.” Martha explains the connection between that kind of “plum” and “plumbers.”

 Driver License
Which is the correct form: driver license, drivers’ license, or driver’s license?

 Tomboy
An Austin teenager wants to know why we refer to a girl who behaves boyishly as a tomboy.

 Beano and Macing
This week’s Slang This! contestant tries to guess the meaning of the terms beano (no, not the anti-gas treatment) and macing (no, not the stinging defensive spray).

 Bad vs. Badly
A teacher discusses whether the correct form is feel bad or feel badly. By the way, the Latin proverb Martha mentions here is, “Qui docet, discet.”

 Capitalizing Pronouns
Why do we use a capital letter “I” for the first person singular pronoun, but don’t capitalize any other pronouns?

 Bunny, Bunny
A caller from Maine says she was taught to say “bunny, bunny” at the first of each month for good luck. Then she met someone who says “rabbit, rabbit” for the same reason. What’s the superstition behind these lagomorphic locutions?

 Clue: Pecking Order
Martha has a crossword clue for Grant: “pecking order?”. Six letters, two words, and the last letter is “e.” Got it?

 Crossed Words Puzzle
In honor of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, Quiz Guy John Chaneski presents a puzzle about—what else?—crossed words. He has invited listeners to submit their own single crossers to quizguys@waywordradio.org. A single crosser is two related words that share only a single letter. The most elegant ones will be both long and from a fairly tight category.

 Hush Puppies
A caller wants to know why those deep-fried balls of cornmeal and spices are called hush puppies.

 Pronouncing Route
An ESL teacher puzzles over how to explain to his students the proper pronunciation of the word route. He asks whether the pronunciation “root” has been “routed” by “rowt.”

 Off in the Giggleweeds
A caller is curious about an expression her father liked to use “off in the giggleweeds.” What’s a giggleweed? And no, he didn’t mean marijuana.

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

Photo by Luca Sartoni. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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