A physician heard a broadcaster use the term byzantine to describe the current health care system, and wonders about the origin of this adjective. Martha notes that the Byzantine Empire, which began in the 4th century A.D., was notable for its convoluted system of government officials and titled nobility. Additionally, Byzantine art is known for its intricacies and elaborate details. Thus, the word has come to refer to anything exceptionally complicated or intricate. This is part of a complete episode.
- Spicy Jambalaya 06/18/2018: Teen slang from the South, and food words that are tricky to pronounce. • High schoolers in Huntsville, Alabama, told Martha and Grant about their... [more]
- Chopped Liver 06/10/2018: There's a proverb that goes "beloved children have many names." At least, that's true when it comes to the names we give our pets. "Fluffy"... [more]
- Busted Melon 06/02/2018: When writing textbooks about slavery, which words best reflect its cold, hard reality? Some historians are dropping the word slave in favor of terms like... [more]
- Truth and Beauty 05/28/2018: Malamute, kayak, and parka are just some of the words that have found their way into English from the language of indigenous people in northern... [more]
- Jump Steady 05/19/2018: To transmit information during wartime, various industries used to encode their messages letter by letter with an elaborate system--a primitive version of today's digital encryption.... [more]