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Insegrevious Paratereseomaniacs

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In this episode, Martha and Grant honor winners of the Ig Nobel Prizes, those wacky awards for weird academic research, and they help a caller decipher a puzzling word from a personals ad: what does paratereseomaniac mean? This episode first aired December 8, 2007.

Ig Nobel Prizes

 A electronic teenager repellent? An alarm clock that runs away from you to make you’ll wake up? Yep, it’s the Ig Nobel Prizes, those awards for academic research that first makes you laugh and then makes you think. Martha and Grant honor this year’s winners for linguistics and literature.

Bread and Butter Expression

 A caller shares colorful expressions from her Texas-born mother, including turkey tail and I’m gonna snatch you bald-headed. She also wonders why her mother says bread and butter every time they’re walking together and an object in their path makes them step to either side of it.

Website vs. Web Site

 A pair of business partners disagree whether to use one word, website, or or two words, Web site.

World Capitol Quiz

 Greg Pliska presents a groaner of a quiz about world capitals. Let’s just put it this way: the number of puns in this quiz will be Dublin exponentially.


 A former resident of Buffalo, New York, puzzles over a strange word in a 12-year-old personals ad. What exactly is a “paratereseomaniac with extensive knowledge of osculation”?

Utilize vs. Use

 A former Navy man has a pet peeve about using the word utilize instead of use.


 Did Gary Owen invent the word insegrevious? And is there a category for words that can mean anything you want them to?

Trailer Queen and Soup Spitter

 This week’s “Slang This!” contestant learns the difference between a trailer queen and soup spitter.

Drive Safely

 A wife seeks consolation because her husband always implores her to “drive safe” instead of “drive safely.” Martha says if he really loves her, he’ll use an adverb. Grant says it’s a message of love, so maybe the -ly doesn’t matter so much.

Freshwater Estuaries

 You may have learned that an estuary is where a river meets the sea, but a reference librarian asks whether she should eschew estuary as a word for the confluence of freshwater bodies. Martha and Grant tide her over with some more information.

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

Photo by Nigel Howe. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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