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Gyros and Sheath Cakes

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What’s the right way to pronounce gyros? Have you ever heard of feeling poozley? Called something great a blinger? Use the expression one-off to mean a “one-time thing”? This episode first aired October 3, 2009.

Dictionary Recommendations

 Grant and Martha recommend dictionaries for college students, both online references (OneLook.com, The Oxford English Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster Dictionary) and the old-fashioned kind to keep at one’s elbow (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).


 If you get hold of some bad sushi for lunch, you’ll wind up feeling poozley. A caller whose in-laws use poozley insists they must have made it up.

“D” in D-Day

 A caller from Texas wonders what the “D” stands for in D-Day.

Sheath Cake vs. Sheet Cake

 A Texas family has a dispute with a prospective in-law who happens to be a chef. Is their favorite spicy chocolate cake properly known as a sheath cake or a sheet cake?

Job Application Spelling Errors

 One place where spelling really counts: on a job application. Martha shares some painfully funny proof.

Word Puzzle in Verse

 Quiz Guy Greg Pliska shares a puzzle in verse, challenging the hosts to fill in the blanks with words that differ by just one letter. Like this: “I never count ___ when I’m going to ___; that method does not work for me. Right around five’s when I burst into hives: I’m allergic to wool, don’t you see?”


 In medical terminology, the abbreviation GTTS means “drops” or “drips.” But why?

Pronouncing Gyros

 The hosts debate the right way to pronounce the name of that meaty Greek sandwiches known as gyros. Is it JEE-roh? JYE-roh? YEE-roh? Something more Greek-sounding?

Origin of Gaudy

 Martha says her recent trip to Barcelona brought to mind a listener’s question about whether the word gaudy has anything to do with the name of the great Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi.

A Real Blinger

 A woman who grew up in Detroit remembers her mother saying, “This one’s going to be a real blinger!” whenever a big storm was coming. What exactly is a blinger?

Etymology of One-Off

 A one-off is something that is done or made or occurs just once. A Washington State caller who’s curious about the term learns that it derives from manufacturing lingo.

Modern American Usage, Third Edition

 The third edition of Bryan Garner’s book, Modern American Usage is now out. Grant explains why it’s a wonderful reference to consult, even when you disagree with it.

A Single Len

 An ophthalmologist in Arcata, California, is puzzled by the way some of his older patients refer to a single lens. Several of them call it a len, not a lens. This gives the hosts a chance to focus on what linguists call back-formations.

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

Photo by Jeffrey W. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Books Mentioned in the Episode

Modern American Usage by Bryan Garner
Shorter Oxford English Dictionary by William R. Trumble
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary by Merriam-Webster

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