Where’d we get a word like skyscraper? Martha explains the image literally refers to scraping the sky, but first applied to the topmost sail on a ship, and later to tall horses, and high fly balls in baseball. There are similar ideas in other languages, as in the Spanish word “rascacielos” and French “gratte-ciel.” In German, the word is picturesque as well. It’s “wolkenkratzer,” which literally means “cloud-scratcher.” This is part of a complete episode.
- Up Your Alley (episode #1504) 07/30/2018: Book recommendations, including a collection of short stories inspired by dictionaries, and a techno-thriller for teens. Or, how about novels with an upbeat message? Publishers... [more]
- Piping Hot (episode #1503) 07/23/2018: The game of baseball has alway inspired colorful commentary. Sometimes that means using familiar words in unfamiliar ways. The word stuff, for example, can refer... [more]
- Mimeographs and Dittos (episode #1502) 06/24/2018: In this episode: How colors got their names, and a strange way to write. The terms blue and orange arrived in English via French, so... [more]
- 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]