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Now You’re Cooking with Gas

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Some of us can’t go anywhere without a book or something to read. And one fast food joint hears you: Chipotle is now printing the work of famous writers on their paper cups. Speaking of fast food, saying that someone is two plums short of a Happy Meal is one way to joke that they’re not quite up to snuff. Plus, every first grader plays that little flute known as a recorder—but haven’t you always wondered why it’s called that? Plus, a word quiz for the summertime, South Carolina lingo, flout vs. flaunt, silent B’s, a rare word for worry in the wee hours, and a big congrats to the Class of 2K14! This episode first aired June 20, 2014.

Play in the Mud

  You haven’t played in the mud until you’ve done it in South Carolina, where a particularly fine, silty mud is called pluff.

Cooking with Gas Origin

  In the 1930’s, the catch phrase Now you’re cooking with gas, meaning “you’re on the right track,” was heard on popular radio shows at the behest of the natural gas industry, as part of a quiet marketing push for gas-powered stoves.

Neither Moss Nor Sand

  If you can make neither moss nor sand of something, then if you can’t make sense of it. This phrase is particularly common in Northern England.

Short of a Happy Meal

  If someone is two plums short of a Happy Meal—or more commonly, two french fries short of a Happy Meal—they’re they’re not playing with a full deck. In fact, such good-natured teases are sometimes called fulldeckisms.

Class of 2K14

  The class of 2014 is totally hooked into the future, which is why they’re writing Class of 2K14 in their Snapchats.

Beach Boys Game

  Our Quiz Master John Chaneski has a seasonally appropriate game based on the first concert he ever attended: The Beach Boys’ “Eternal Summer.”

German for “Pout”

  Count on the Germans to have a picturesque term for a pout: Schippchen, that face you make by sticking out your bottom lip, comes from a word that means “little shovel.”

Gift for Good Measure

  In South Carolina, if someone offers you a broadus or something for broadus, say “Yes, please!” It’s a little extra something a store clerk might give to a customer. As we discussed in an earlier episode, this kind of “gift thrown in for good measure,” is often called a lagniappe.


  A kludge, or kluge, is “an inelegant workaround” or “a quick-and-dirty solution.” This term comes from the world of computing.

Joggling Boards

  Joggling boards are no ordinary benches — they bounce, and you find them mostly in South Carolina. Hours of fun for the whole family!

Words With Silent B

  The word climb has been sneaking by with that silent b for a while. But speakers of Old English pronounced the b in its predecessor, climban.


  Dayclean, meaning “daybreak” or “dawn,” is common among speakers of Gullah in South Carolina and Georgia.

Fast Food Reading Material

  If you suffer from abibliophobia, or a fear of not having something to read at all times, then Chipotle is the fast-food burrito joint for you. Thanks to a suggestion from writer Jonathan Safran Foer, prose by the likes of Toni Morrison, Sarah Silverman, George Saunders, and Michael Lewis is now printed on their cups and bags, and some of it’s pretty good.

Night Worries

  Rare word fans: uhtceare, from Old English words that mean “dawn” and “care,” is a fancy term for those worries you fret over in the wee hours. Next time you find yourself lying awake at night worrying, try reading the melancholy 10th-century poem “The Wife’s Lament”, which contains a poignant use of uhtceare.

Etymology of Musical Recorder

  That little instrument we all played in first grade is called a recorder because in the 15th century, the word record also meant “to practice a tune,” and was often applied to birds.

Adding Letters to make New Nouns

  A listener from Bozeman, Montana, wonders: Is it lame to add the letters th to the end of adjectives to make new nouns like lameth?

Spit Someone a Big Idiom

  To spit someone a big is to do someone a favor. Try that one out on your boss!

Flout vs. Flaunt

  The word flout, originally meaning “to show contempt,” pops up in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Here’s a hint to help you remember the difference between flout and flaunt: You can flaunt your bikini body on the beach, but if you do so in church, you’ll flout the rules.

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

Photo by Josh Koonce. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Episode

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Music Used in the Episode

IntroMagic In ThreesMagic In ThreesGED Soul
Nick’s ThemeMagic In ThreesMagic In ThreesGED Soul
Neal’s LamentMagic In ThreesMagic In ThreesGED Soul
PicturesMcCoy TynerThe GreetingFantasy Records
It’s Good To Be The KingMagic In ThreesMagic In ThreesGED Soul
I Got WarrantsMagic In ThreesMagic In ThreesGED Soul
Rancho RelaxoMagic In ThreesMagic In ThreesGED Soul
MesotheliomaMagic In ThreesMagic In ThreesGED Soul
NaimaMcCoy TynerThe GreetingFantasy Records
Beatin’ Tha BreaksMagic In ThreesMagic In ThreesGED Soul
Pushin’ OffMagic In ThreesMagic In ThreesGED Soul
Let’s Call The Whole Thing OffElla FitzgeraldElla Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song BookVerve

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