Robbie in San Antonio, Texas, wonders about an expression he heard from his mother, who spent many years in Germany. If two people have the opportunity to do something, but neither of them does it, she’d say It fell between chairs. In English, we get across the same idea by saying someone sat between two stools or fell between two stools. In fact, versions of the phrases sitting on two chairs or sitting on two stools or falling between two chairs or falling between two stools occur throughout European languages, going all the way back to the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca. This is part of a complete episode.
- Singing Sand (episode #1546) 04/06/2020: Cat hair may be something you brush off, but cat hair is also a slang term that means "money." In the same way, cat beer... [more]
- Baby's Breath (episode #1545) 03/23/2020: Have you ever googled your own name and found someone else who goes by the very same moniker? There's a word for that: googleganger. Plus,... [more]
- Hog on Ice (episode #1544) 03/09/2020: One secret to writing well is … there is no secret! There's no substitute for simply sitting down day after day to practice the craft... [more]
- Goody Two-Shoes (episode #1543) 02/24/2020: She sells seashells by the seashore. Who is the she in this tongue twister? Some claim it's the young Mary Anning, who went on to... [more]
- Baby Blues (episode #1542) 02/10/2020: A hundred years ago, suffragists lobbied to win women the right to vote. Linguistically speaking, though, suffrage isn't about "suffering." It's from a Latin word... [more]