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Why Do Girls Wear Pink?

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We all know that the color pink is for boys and the color blue is for girls — at least, that’s how it was 100 years ago. Grant and Martha share the surprising history behind the colors we associate with gender. Plus, we go rollin’ in our hooptie, play a game of guess-that-Google-search, and get some tips on how to avoid getting swindled by our real estate agent! Also, new terms for failed software upgrades, some sugar-coated snark from across the pond, and a new way to show sarcasm in a text message. Yeah. Sure.
This episode first aired October 22, 2011.
Bad Upgrades

 Hate it when a software upgrade is worse than the previous version? We call that a flupgrade, or a new-coke. As in, “Skype really new-coked it with version 5.3.0.” Come on, Skype!


 What is a hooptie? Though it started in the 1960s as a term for a sweet new car, it became the common moniker for a beater, or a jalopy. Maybe Sir Mix-A-Lot said it best: “My hooptie rollin’, tailpipe draggin’/ heat don’t work, and my girl keeps nagging.'”

No Better Than She Ought to Be

 If a lady is no better than she ought to be, her sexual morals may be in question. The saying, recently popularized by the BBC program Downton Abbey, is what’s known as a charientism, or a bit of sugar-coated snark. By the way, if you’d like to hear more about such thinly veiled insults, check out this episode.


 If someone’s in a swivet, they’re flustered or in distress. For example, you might be in a swivel if you’re late for a meeting or you’ve shown up to the SAT without a No. 2 pencil.

Google Search-Completion Puzzle

 Our Quiz Guy Greg Pliska has a game based on Google searches, or at least what Google thinks you’re searching. For example, what do Elmo, pink, and plant all have in common? Google suggests them, in that order, after you’ve entered the words “tickle me.”

Constructed Languages

 Did the movie Avatar make you imagine creating an entirely new language, like Na’vi? Conlang.org and the Language Creation Society have plenty of information on how to go about it and what others, including J.R.R. Tolkein have tried. Mark Rosenfelder’s book The Language Construction Kit is a great resource for getting started.

Call for Tender

 What does it mean to call for tender? This British phrase for soliciting a job is rarely seen in the United States, though tender, from the Latin for “to stretch or hold forth,” is used in North America in two different senses: “to tender,” as in “to offer,” as well as the noun “tender” for something that’s been issued, such as a dollar bill, hence legal tender.

‘Puter Principle

 What do you call an upgrade gone wrong? Perhaps the ‘Puter Principle could be the software equivalent of the Peter Principle, which in business means that every employee in a hierarchy tends to rise to his or her level of incompetence.

To a Tee

 If something’s right on, it suits you to a tee. But why a tee? Tee, or the letter T, is short for tittle, or something really tiny. So if something’s exactly perfect, it’s right on point, with no room to spare. Or, simply, it suits you to a tee.

Gendered Colors

 Why is pink a girl color and blue a boy color? In the 19th Century, pink used to be associated with boys, since it was a stronger, more decided color. Blue, on the other hand, was regarded as a girls’ color, because it was considered dainty. It wasn’t until the 1940s that marketers started to switch it around. Jeanne Maglaty has a great article about this in Smithsonian Magazine, called “When did Girls Start Wearing Pink?

Slake Your Thirst

 To slake your thirst is to quench your thirst. But some people have been switching it to slate your thirst or other variants. It’s a classic case of an eggcorn, or one of those words that people mishear, and then start pronouncing incorrectly; for example, when misheard, acorn can become eggcorn.


 What does it mean to gazump someone? This phrase, specifically meaning “to swindle a customer in a real estate deal,” came about in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s before disappearing and then popping up again in England in the 1970s. Whether or not the term is in vogue, the practice seems to be a mainstay.


 How do you indicate sarcasm in a text message or an email? If winky emoticons aren’t your thing, try left-leaning italics, as recommended by sartalics.com.

Arabic Sayings

 The Arabic idiom in the apricot season translates to “in your dreams,” presumably because the growing season for this fruit is so brief. Incidentally, the etymological root of “apricot,” which means “to ripen early,” is shared with the word precocious.

The Egyptian Arabic saying “ate the camel and all it carried” is the equivalent of “to eat someone out of house and home.”

Photo by gtall1. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Episode

The Language Construction Kit by Mark Rosenfelder

Music Used in the Episode

My HooptieSir Mix A LotSeminarNastymix Records
Sniffin’ and Scratchin’The Soul SnatchersSniffin’ and Scratchin’Social Beats
AfrostrutThe Nite-LitersInstrumental DirectionsRCA
A Man And A WomanDavid McCallumMusic – It’s Happening NowCapitol Records
The BumpGeorge FreemanFranticdiagnosisBam-Boo Records
Funky ThitheeShuggie OtisHere Comes Shuggie OtisEpic
If I Were A CarpenterDavid McCallumMusic – It’s Happening NowCapitol Records
Wagon WheelsGrant GreenGoin’ WestBlue Note
Let’s Call The Whole Thing OffElla FitzgeraldElla Fitzgerald Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Song BookUMG Recordings, Inc

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