A listener in Springfield, Illinois, recalls that an elderly relative would respond to the question “How are you?” with the answer “Forked end down.” By that, he meant, “I’m fine.” If you’ve ever drawn a stick figure, you know that the forked end is where the feet are, so forked end down means someone’s feet are firmly planted on the ground. In the American West, “forked end up” long referred to the unfortunate position of a rider thrown from a horse. This is part of a complete episode.
- Hidden Treasures 11/20/2017: A new online archive of Civil War letters offers a vivid portrait of the everyday lives of enlisted men. These soldiers lacked formal education so... [more]
- Butterflies in Your Stomach 11/14/2017: If you're not using a dictionary to look up puzzling words as you read them, you're missing out on a whole other level of enjoyment.... [more]
- Catch You on the Flip Side 11/06/2017: Some countries have strict laws about naming babies. New Zealand authorities, for example, denied a request to name some twins Fish and Chips. • Halley's... [more]
- All Verklempt 10/30/2017: Of all the letters in the alphabet, which two or three are your favorites? If your short list includes one or more of your initials,... [more]
- Hunk Waffle 10/23/2017: Decisions by dictionary editors, wacky wordplay, and Walt Whitman's soaring verse. How do lexicographers decide which historical figures deserve a mention or perhaps even an... [more]