Home » Newsletter » Giving Up Atomic Wedgies for Lent

Giving Up Atomic Wedgies for Lent

Hello and happy Ides of March!

On this week's show, the topic was wedgie technique, specifically the difference between a "murphy" and a "melvin." We also talked about the origin of "mad props," the uses of "bring" and "take," and singing the lyrics to "Amazing Grace" to the tune of "Gilligan's Island." We also threw out some favorite Facebook groups that make us laugh.


Several hundred people responded to our survey about how to pronounce "both." It seems 8.6% of respondents pronounce the word as "bolth." A map of the survey results is here:


We'll be talking on an upcoming show with one of those bolth-sayers, who never realized he added an "l" to the word until his grown daughter pointed it out.

Also, in case you missed it, here's the survey results and map for our survey about "chickpeas" vs. "garbanzo beans." The latter term is definitely more popular in the western US.


Here's a word puzzle we love:

"What common English word is nine letters long, and each time you remove a letter from it, it still remains an English word, from all nine letters all the way to the last remaining letter?" Find out:


We received an email from Jennifer Klein in Jacksonville last month titled "Potty Mouth for Good."

How could we resist opening that one right away? We couldn't! And we're glad we did. Jennifer wrote,

"As you may know, Lent is upon us, and every year I give up something for Lent. It has to be something cherished, something you'll miss, something meaningful that will be difficult to sacrifice. Some people give up chocolate, some television, but for me the choice was clear. You guessed it: swearing. As an added incentive to abandon such a rich and useful part of my everyday vocabulary, I decided to impose a fine. Each time I drop a four-letter (or five-letter or six-letter) bomb, I contribute $1 into a fund. At the end of Lent, I will contribute this fund to… 'A Way with Words'! Lent started yesterday, and the fund already has $7."

Well, Jennifer, we're thrilled to hear you think of us whenever you say #(?*$)%*&! We hope you're stubbing your toe on a regular basis! 😉

You can give the contents of your swear-jar as a tax-deductible contribution in support of "A Way with Words" here:


Incidentally, did you know that the set of typographical symbols we used instead profanity is called a "grawlix"? More about them in this episode:


We invite you to call or email any time with your questions and comments about language or about the show.

Until next time, here's hoping you always get your grawlix in early!

Martha and Grant

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

Further reading

Bottled Sunshine (episode #1512)

If you catch your blue jeans on a nail, you may find yourself with a winklehawk. This term, adapted into English from Dutch, means “an L-shaped tear in a piece of fabric.” And: What’s your relationship with the books on your...

Cootie Shot (episode #1510)

Perfect sentences and slang that tickles your mind! A new book of writing advice says a good sentence “imposes a logic on the world’s weirdness” and pares away options for meaning, word by word. • Your musician friend may refer to...

Recent posts