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.
- 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]
- Busted Melon 06/02/2018: When writing textbooks about slavery, which words best reflect its cold, hard reality? Some historians are dropping the word slave in favor of terms like... [more]
- Truth and Beauty 05/28/2018: Malamute, kayak, and parka are just some of the words that have found their way into English from the language of indigenous people in northern... [more]