Home » Episodes » Fat Buttery Words

Fat Buttery Words

Play episode

Teaching our children, and some advice for writers. Suppose your child is eager to tackle a difficult subject–ancient Greek, for example–but you know his reach exceeds his grasp? The challenge is to support the child’s curiosity without squelching it entirely. And: In just a few years, the United States will be 250 years old. But if a 200-year celebration is a “bicentennial,” what do you call a 250-year anniversary? Plus, amusing typos, lay vs. lie, book-bosomed, palaver, I’m so sure!, and more. This episode first aired October 3, 2014.

Must Love Words

 Aspiring screenwriters take note: A surefire requisite for breaking into the business has, and will likely always be, a love of words—fat, buttery words, like ones the Marx Brothers writer Robert Pirosh wrote about in his 1934 letter to MGM.

Valley Girl Slang

 It’s been a while since Moon Unit Zappa and the Valley Girl craze slipped out of the popular eye, which is likely why the sarcastic quip, “I’m so sure!” had one listener tripped up.

Amusing Typos

 To get your fix of amusing typos like, “Illegally parked cars will be fine,” and other errors that can’t be mentioned on public radio, try the book Just My Typo.

Old as My Tongue

 When you think about it, the saying “I’m as old as my tongue and a little bit older than my teeth” makes a good deal of sense. It goes all the way back to the 18th century and Jonathan Swift’s Polite Conversation.

Stephen King Quote for Writers

 All writers should heed the advice of Stephen King: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

Ho Hum Word Game

 Bored? Then this quiz is for you. Our Puzzle Master John Chaneski hits us with a word game where all the answers begin with “ho” or “hum.”

Tips for Lay vs. Lie

 The difference between the verbs lay and lie has always been tricky to master, but Bryan Garner has some helpful tips.


 People who can’t manage to go anywhere without a book might be afflicted with abibliophobia, or perhaps they’re just book-bosomed.

Massless but Massive

 You’re probably aware that massive is simply a slang term for great or large. But for one professional balloon artist who thought that something massive has to contain actual mass, it took some convincing for him to accept that his giant balloon sculpture could, in fact, be massive.

Whistling Girls

 “Whistling girls and cackling hens always come to some bad end,” said people in the olden days regarding transgressive women. A variation on this saying pops up in a 1911 book called Folk-Lore of Women by one Reverend Thomas Thiselton-Dyer.

Mark Twain Writing Quote

 Mark Twain famously said that he’d never write “metropolis” for 7 cents when he could write “city” for the same fee, and it stands as good advice for writers looking to make economical word choices.

Encouraging a Love of Learning

 Grant’s 7-year-old son has gotten into Ancient Greek, of all things. While it’s a joy to teach your kids interesting things, a child’s eagerness to learn also poses a challenge for parents. You don’t want to squelch their curiosity by forcing things too hard.

Case Quarters

 Store clerks: If someone asks for a case quarter in change, it means they don’t want two dimes and a nickel or five nickels. They want a single 25-cent piece. Same for a case dollar, case dime, or case nickel. The customer is asking for a single bill or coin.


 The term palaver, meaning an idle or prolonged discussion, comes from the old Portuguese term palavra that British sailors picked up at West African ports in the 1700s, where palaver huts are places where villagers can gather to discuss local affairs.

A Poem for Lay vs. Lie

 If you’re still hung up on the lay vs. lie rule, here’s a poem for you.

250 Year Anniversary

 We’ll be celebrating the United States’ 250-year anniversary in about 12 years, and if you’re looking for a neat, shiny term for the event, how about bicenquinquagenary, or perhaps sestercentennial?

Sherbert Day

 Why do we eat a frozen dessert to celebrate being born? Because it’s sherbert-day! Don’t hate us.

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

Photo by Bob Jagendorf. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Books Mentioned in the Episode

Just My Typo by Drummond Moir
Polite Conversation by Jonathan Swift

Music Used in the Episode

Valley GirlFrank ZappaShip Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning WitchZappa Records
The Volcano SongBudos BandThe Budos BandDaptone
Across The AtlanticBudos BandThe Budos BandDaptone
It’s Good To Be The KingMagic in ThreesMagic in ThreesGED Soul
King CharlesBudos BandThe Budos BandDaptone
We Dance AloneBeckThe InformationInterscope Records
I Got WarrantsMagic in ThreesMagic in ThreesGED Soul
Hwe hwe mu na yi wo mpenaK. Frimpong & His Cubano FiestasK. Frimpong & His Cubano FiestasSecret Stash Records
No ComplaintsBeckThe InformationInterscope Records
Let’s Call The Whole Thing OffElla Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book Verve

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from this show

Episode 1533

Life of Riley

Unwrap the name of a candy bar, and you just might find a story inside. For instance, one chewy treat found in many a checkout lane is named after a family’s beloved horse. And: 50 years ago in the United States, some Latino elementary...

Episode 1634

Blue Dolphin

How can you kick the verbal habit of saying you know and um so many times in a sentence? For one thing, get comfortable with pauses. There’s no need to fill every silence during a conversation. Also, a doctor who treats patients in Appalachia...