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Scat Cat

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The dilemma continues over how to spell dilemma! Grant and Martha try to suss out the backstory of why some people spell that word with an “n.” A lot of them, it seems, went to Catholic school. Maybe that’s a clue? Plus, the saying “Close, but no cigar” gets traced back to an old carnival game. And the French horn isn’t actually French—so why in the world do we call it that? Plus, a word game based on famous ad slogans, the plural form of the computer mouse, a Southern way to greet a sneeze, and remembering a beloved crossword puzzle writer. This episode first aired October 23, 2015.

Spelling “Dilemma”

  The dilemma continues over how to spell dilemma. Are there Catholic school teachers out there still teaching their students to spell it the wrong way, i.e., dilemna?

Close, But No Cigar

  The saying “close but no cigar” comes from the famous carnival game wherein a bold fellow tries to swing a sledgehammer hard enough to make a bell ring. The winner of the game, which was popular around 1900, would win a cigar. The game still exists, of course, but tobacco is no longer an appropriate prize for a family game.

Seven Letter Word Riddle

  Here’s a riddle: What seven-letter word becomes longer when the third letter is removed?

Computer Mice

  The most common plural form of mouse—as in, a computer mouse—is mice. But since the mouse was introduced in the 1960’s, tech insiders have applied their own sense of humor and irony to the usage of mice.

Nicknames and Slogans Word Quiz

  Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a game based on nicknames and slogans sure to test your knowledge of both geography and niche comestibles, such as the product sold with the line, “That’s rich.”

Make Your Hair Worse

  We heard from a woman who told her boyfriend about her plan to get her hair cut. He responded that he thought that particular style would make her hair “worse.” Does the word worse in this case imply that her hair was bad to begin with?

Nook-Shotten

  Nook-shotten is an old word meaning that something has many corners or projections. Shakespeare used it in Henry V when he spoke about the nook-shotten isle of Albion.

Southern Scat Cat

  “Scat cat, your tail’s on fire” is a fun variant of “scat cat, get your tail out of the gravy”—both of which are Southern ways to say “bless you” after someone sneezes.

Remembering Merl Reagle

  The crossword puzzle community lost an exceptional man when Merl Reagle died recently. Reagle was a gifted puzzle writer and a lovely person who gave his crosswords a sense of life outside the arcane world of word puzzles.

Deja You

  What do you call the phenomenon of running into a dear friend you haven’t seen in decades? Deja you, maybe?

Etymology of French Horn

  The French horn, a beautiful instrument known for its mellow sound, originated as a hunting horn. The French merely added some innovations that made it more of a practical, usable instrument. But professional musicians often prefer to call it simply the horn.

Hippie Christmas

  It might be the grooviest new holiday since Burning Man: Hippie Christmas is the annual festivity surrounding the end of the college school year, when students leave perfectly good clothing and household goods by the curb or the dumpster because they don’t want to schlep it all back home.

Koozie, Cozy, and Kozy

  That foam thing you put around a beer or soda can to keep your drink cold and your hand warm is called a koozie. Or a cozy. Or a coozy, or a kozy or any variant of those spellings. It originates from the tea cozy, pronounced with the long “o” sound. But a patented version with the brand name Koozie came about in the 1980’s, making the double-o sound a popular way to pronounce it as well.

This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.

Photo by Rene Kyllingstad. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Episode

Henry V by William Shakespeare

Music Used in the Episode

TitleArtistAlbumLabel
Flood In Franklin ParkGrant GreenLive At The LighthouseBlue Note
WindjammerGrant GreenLive At The LighthouseBlue Note
Horny TickleClutchy HopkinsWalking BackwardsUbiquity
Jan JanClutchy HopkinsWalking BackwardsUbiquity
Walk In The NightGrant GreenLive at the LighthouseUbiquity
Fancy FreeGrant GreenLive At The LighthouseBlue Note
RoctoberClutchy HopkinsWalking BackwardsUbiquity
Ain’t It Funky NowGrant GreenGreen Is BeautifulUbiquity
Volcano VapesSure Fire Soul EnsembleUnreleasedUnreleased

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