Rick calls from Rouses Point, New York, to ask about the etymology of the phrase to hang for a sheep as for a lamb, meaning to go for broke or to go all out. The answer involves the old tradition of capital punishment for poaching animals. Given the same risk, one might as well steal the animal that’s more valuable. There’s a similar Scots proverb that goes as well be hanged for a wedder as for a lamb, a wedder being a male castrated sheep. The word wedder is linguistically related to bellwether, a large, castrated sheep wearing a bell that lets a shepherd know where the flock is going. This is part of a complete episode.
- Kids Are Asking (episode #1523) 04/11/2019: Questions from young listeners and conversations about everything from shifting slang to a bizarre cooking technique. Kids ask about how to talk about finding information... [more]
- Strawberry Moon (episode #1522) 04/08/2019: We asked for your thoughts about whether cursive writing should be taught in schools — and many of you replied with a resounding "Yes!" You... [more]
- Spill the Tea (episode #1521) 03/25/2019: If someone urges you to spill the tea, they probably don't want you tipping over a hot beverage. Originally, the tea here was the letter... [more]
- Dirty Laundry (#episode 1520) 03/11/2019: When you had sleepovers as a child, what did you call the makeshift beds you made on the floor? In some places, you call those... [more]
- Keep Your Powder Dry (episode #1519) 02/25/2019: Jacuzzi and silhouette are eponyms — that is, they derive from the names of people. An Italian immigrant to California invented the bubbly hot tub... [more]