Looking for something that curls your hair, cleans your teeth, and makes childbirth a pleasure? A listener’s mother used that saying in reference to every miracle potion from WD-40 to vinegar. Grant explains that the first known version of this in print dates back to 1919 in Mrs. Lucretia Graves’ Exits from the Pearly Gates, where the advertisements for opium-type substances had less cheek and more sincerity. Grant notes that Google Books has a wealth of examples of old ads that took the saying and used even more elaborate versions to promote everything from tequila to hypnosis. This is part of a complete episode.
- Goody Two-Shoes (episode #1543) 02/24/2020: She sells seashells by the seashore. Who is the she in this tongue twister? Some claim it's the young Mary Anning, who went on to... [more]
- Baby Blues (episode #1542) 02/10/2020: A hundred years ago, suffragists lobbied to win women the right to vote. Linguistically speaking, though, suffrage isn't about "suffering." It's from a Latin word... [more]
- Walkie Talkie (episode #1541) 01/27/2020: One of the most powerful words you'll ever hear — and one of the most poignant — isn't in dictionaries yet. But it probably will... [more]
- Tiger Tail (episode #1540) 01/20/2020: You may have a favorite word in English, but what about your favorite in another language? The Spanish term ojalá is especially handy for expressing... [more]
- Clever Clogs (episode #1539) 12/23/2019: Ribbon fall. Gallery forest. You won't find terms like these in most dictionaries, but they and hundreds like them are discussed by famous writers in... [more]