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Murphy’s Law and Melvin’s, Too


In this week's archive edition (more about that in a moment) we discuss "bring" vs. "take," Facebook groups for grammar lovers, and singing the lyrics of "Amazing Grace" over the melody of "Gilligan's Island." We also have a typically highbrow conversation about terms for underwear-tugging.


Listener Julie Bulkow grew up in Minnesota, and wrote to inform us that there a "wedgie" was called a "snuggy." Several of you also sent the word "grundy" to add to our growing collection. Thanks!

While we're at it, we note that the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary now includes an entry for "muffin top." That's the roll of flesh that protrudes over a tight waistband, much like rising dough.

The OED has also added the sense of "heart" as a verb, as in "I [heart] New York."


Among the OED's other recent additions are several initialisms, such as "OMG," "BFF," and "FYI." That has rattled the sensibilities of some, although the age of those expressions may surprise you.

The OED's first citation for "OMG" is a personal letter from 1917. The first for "BFF" is a Miami Herald article from almost a quarter-century ago. "FYI" originated in the language of office memoranda in the early 1940s.

Visual Thesaurus has a nice roundup of reactions to these additions from across the blogosphere. It includes video of OED editors explaining the process of adding new words.


The apocalypse is nigh! At least, poetry critic David Orr fears that's the case. Why? The April issue of Oprah Winfrey's magazine includes the headline "Spring Fashion Modeled By Young Poets."

"Yes. Spring fashion. Modeled. By rising young poets," Orr writes. What follows is a funny, if conflicted, essay about poetry and its place in society. Worth a read:


Orr, by the way, has a book coming out next month called "Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry." It looks intriguing.


BEHIND THE SCENES: Yes, we've aired a couple of archive editions recently, but brand-new epsiodes will be winging your way next week! Meanwhile, we're working hard to keep bringing you new ones -- and that includes doing some fundraising to keep the show going strong.

"A Way with Words" isn't produced by a radio station or by any of the big radio networks. We're a small, nonprofit organization with an educational mission.

Our show is made possible only through the support of our community of listeners and like-minded organizations.

You can help out with a donation in any amount here: https://www.waywordradio.org/donate/

Thanks, and thanks for listening!

Martha and Grant

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Further reading

Spill the Tea (episode #1521)

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 T, as in “truth.” To spill the T means to “pass along truthful information.” Plus...

Strong Coffee (episode #1625)

During the late 19th and early 20th century, thousands of volunteers helped crowdsource the Oxford English Dictionary. This venerable reference work includes citations sent in by inventors, eccentrics, scientists and educators, an Arctic explorer —...

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