This week, Martha and Grant discuss terms from Australia, including aerial ping-pong, pumpkin squatter, and…kangarooster? They explain the connection between stereotypes and stereos, and why we call the person clearing tables in a restaurant a busboy. Also, what’s the plural of moose? Meese? Mooses?
This episode first aired October 11, 2008.
Great news for language fans: The Australian National Dictionary is now available online for free. It’s full of fascinating words from Down Under. Contrary to what you might think, for example, kangaroosters are pouchless and feather-free, and a pumpkin squatter isn’t a trendy thigh-reducing exercise.
Ever been accused of faunching around? A San Diego listener says her family used this expression to describe the act of squirming fussily or impatiently, the kind of thing that happens when a toddler gets a haircut. She asks if the word is unique to her family.
Say there’s one moose, and then another comes along. Now there are two…what? Meese? Mooses? Moose? A Denver man wants to know the correct plural term for moose. The hosts offer news you can use about moose.
If Grandma thinks you’re coming down with the epizootic, she’ll probably want to put you to bed and bring you a bowl of soup. But what’s an epizootic, anyway? And does being diagnosed with it make you feel better or worse?
Quiz Guy John Chaneski presents a puzzle called “Blank the Blank” or “Verb the Noun,” about three-word phrases with a “the” in the middle. It’s harder than you might think, so play along and see if you can “blank” the “blank.”
A Wisconsin listener remembers a boss who used to use an odd expression whenever he wanted to change the subject of a discussion. The boss would say, “Well, wet birds don’t fly at night,” then switch to another subject. Grant explains what the term likely means. Hint: Not much!
In this week’s installment of “Slang This!” a contestant from the National Puzzlers’ League tries to guess the meaning of the term vigorish. And no, it’s not a Viagra-laced anise liqueur. He also guesses the meaning of the phrase “how we roll.”
Why do we call the fellow clearing the dishes and silverware a busboy? A Chicago listener isn’t satisfied with the answer, “Because he’s bussing the table.” Grant reveals the terms likely Latin roots.
You’re going to “meet yourself coming back.” A New York City woman who’s always used this expression is surprised when a friend is puzzled by it. Is it really that unusual? Grant assures her that it’s been around for quite a while.
Photo by Robert Young. Used under a Creative Commons license.