What does dog hair have to do with hangover cures? Also, where’d we ever get a word like “dude”? And what’s the word for when unexpected objects form a recognizable image, like a cloud that looks like a bunny, or the image of Elvis in a grilled cheese? We have the answers.
Portions of this episode first aired November 1, 2008.
Download the MP3 here (23.5 MB).
Apple core, Baltimore! Ever play the rhyming game where you eat an apple, then shout “apple core,” and then the first person to respond “Baltimore!” gets to decide where (more specifically, at whom) the core gets tossed. This old-fashioned game is hours of fun for the whole family! We promise.
“A fish stinks from the head down.” When an Indianapolis woman is quoted saying that, she’s accused of calling someone a stinky fish. She says she wasn’t speaking literally, insisting that this is a turn of phrase that means “corruption in an organization starts at the top.” Who’s right?
Dude, how’d we ever start using the word “dude“? The Big Grantbowski traces the word’s origin–it’s over 125 years old. Here’s a poem about dandy dudes from 1883, the year the word zoomed into common use. Ben Zimmer at Visual Thesaurus also has a very good summary of what is known about “dude.”
Quiz Guy John Chaneski drops by with a puzzle involving overlapping words. He calls it, of course, “Overlap-Plied Linguistics.”
If you’re hung over, and someone offers you a little “hair of the dog,” you can rest assured you’re not being offered a sip of something with real dog hair in it. But was that always the case? Grant has the answer, and Martha offers a word once proposed as a medical term for this crapulent condition: veisalgia.
A new resident of Pittsburgh is startled by some of the dialect there, like “yinz” instead of “you” for the second person plural, and nebby for “nosy.” For a wonderful site about the dialect of that area, check out Pittsburgh Speech and Society.
If someone says he “finna go,” he means he’s leaving. But finna? Grant has the final word about finna.
Good news if you’ve wondered about a word for recognizable images composed of random visual stimuli—that image of Elvis in your grilled-cheese sandwich, for example. It’s pareidolia.
In this week’s “Slang This!,” a member of the National Puzzlers’ League from Boston tries to guess the meaning of four possible slang terms, including labanza, woefits, prosciutto, and moose-tanned.
At Murray’s Cheese in Grand Central Station, the workers who sell cheese are called “cheesemongers.” The store’s opening up a new section to sell cold cuts, and workers there are looking for more appetizing term than “meatmonger.” (Meat-R-Maids? Never mind.) Martha and Grant try to help.
At sports events in North America, we enthusiastically root for the home team, right? But a woman from Kenosha, Wisconsin, says an Aussie told her that they most assuredly don’t do that Down Under. There, he tells her, rooting means “having sex.” Is he pulling her leg, she wonders?
A Way with Words is sponsored by Mozy: