A Los Angeles, California, man says his mother studiously avoided swearing. Instead of a curse word, she substituted the word piffle, which was often even more effective than a four-letter word because it was so unexpected. Piffle is most likely onomatopoetic, suggesting a disgusted exhalation through pursed lips. It’s common in the United Kingdom, and figured in the title of the popular 2006 British television program about etymology, Balderdash & Piffle. This is part of a complete episode.
- Kiss the Cow (episode #1567) 04/19/2021: An anadrome is a word that forms a whole new word when you spell it backwards. For example, the word "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts."... [more]
- No Cap, No Lie (episode #1566) 04/05/2021: We take our voices for granted, but it's truly miraculous that we communicate complex thoughts simply by moving our mouths while exhaling. A fascinating new... [more]
- Lead On, Macduff! (episode #1565) 03/22/2021: For rock climbers, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, the word send has taken on a whole new meaning. You might cheer on a fellow snowboarder... [more]
- Tribble Trouble (episode #1564) 03/08/2021: In Cockney rhyming slang, apples and pears is a synonym for "stairs," and dustbin lids means kids. Plus, sniglets are clever coinages for things we... [more]
- Ring-Tailed Tooter (episode #1563) 02/22/2021: National Book Award winner Barry Lopez had wise advice for young writers. First, read widely and follow your curiosity. Second, travel or learn a foreign... [more]