Are fairy tales too scary for children? A survey of parents in Britain found that more than half wouldn’t read them to their children before age five. Martha and Grant discuss the grisly imagery in fairy tales, and whether they’re too traumatizing for kids. Also, when did “dog food” become a verb? And does the word butterfly come from “flutter by”?
This episode first aired February 7, 2009.
Scary Fairy Tales
Are fairy tales too scary for children? A survey of parents in Britain found that more than half wouldn’t read them to their children before age five. Martha and Grant discuss the grisly imagery in fairy tales, and whether they’re too traumatizing for kids.
How did serialized melodramas come to be called soap operas? The answer has to do with the suds-selling sponsors of old-time radio shows.
Papering the House
When a theater company gives out free tickets to a performance, it’s called “papering the house.” But what kind of “paper” are we talking about, anyway?
Country Kitschin’ Quiz
Our show’s pun-loving Quiz Guy, Greg Pliska, whips up a word game called “Country Kitschin’.” The challenge is to fill in the blank in a sentence with the name of a country so that the spoken sentence makes sense. Try this one: “We’ll take our time today, because you’d hate to _____________ quiz as good as this one.”
“Don’t tump over the canoe!” The verb to tump is familiar to folks in many parts of the United States. Use it elsewhere, though, and you might get some quizzical looks. What does it mean and who uses it? The hosts tump over their reference works and answers spill out.
Why do some people add a final “th” sound to the word “height”? Heighth? At one time, that pronunciation was perfectly proper.
If you work in the software industry, you may already know the term dogfooding, which means “to use one’s own product.” Grant explains how dogfood became a verb.
Slang This with Slang Imposters
In this week’s installment of “Slang This!,” a member of the National Puzzlers League tries to separate the real slang terms from the impostors from a list that includes: bacne, button cotton, snake check, and filter filter.
Etymology of Butterfly
A caller suspects that the word butterfly derives from a reversal of the expression “flutter by.” But is it? Her question leads to a discussion of butterfly behavior and a handy five-letter word that means “caterpillar poop.”
That groove between your nose and upper lip? It’s your philtrum, from the Greek word for “love potion.” Martha explains.
Reluctant vs. Reticent
Which is correct: “I’m reticent to do that” or “I’m reluctant to do that?”
Photo by joiseyshowaa. Used under a Creative Commons license.