Patrick from Bolton Landing, New York, visited a kazoo factory and museum in Beauford, South Carolina, which led him to wonder about the name of this buzzing musical instrument. The etymology is uncertain, but we do know that it’s also been called a gazoo, and that it was preceded by a similar instrument called a mirliton or unit flute. In the late 1800s when the word kazoo first appeared, there were several similar-sounding words for “fool” or “stupid person,” including gazook, gazabo, gazebo, and gazoo. These might have influenced the development of the name of an instrument that makes a silly sound. This is part of a complete episode.
- Mrs. Astor’s Horse (episode #1530) 07/29/2019: "What has a head like a cat, feet like a cat, a tail like a cat, but isn't a cat?" Answer: a kitten! A 1948... [more]
- At First Blush (episode #1529) 07/15/2019: Book recommendations and the art of apology. Martha and Grant share some good reads, including an opinionated romp through English grammar, a Spanish-language adventure novel,... [more]
- Gift Horse (episode #1528) 07/01/2019: The edge of the Grand Canyon. A remote mountaintop. A medieval cathedral. Some places are so mystical you feel like you're close to another dimension... [more]
- Had the Radish (episode #1527) 06/21/2019: Your first name is very personal, but what if you don't like it? For some people, changing their name works out great but for others... [more]
- Abso-Bloomin-Lutely (episode #1526) 06/03/2019: The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also,... [more]