What’s in a pet’s name? Martha and Grant swap stories about how they came up with names for their dogs. Also this week: Have you ever been called a stump-jumper? How about a snicklefritz? And what’s the last word in the dictionary? Depending on which dictionary you consult, it might be zythum, zyzzyva, zyxomma, or zyxt.

This episode first aired February 27, 2010.

Download the MP3.

 Pet Name Evolution
Sometimes the process of naming a pet takes a while. The hosts talk about how their dogs’ names evolved.

 Happy as a Clam
A native Japanese speaker is mystified by the expression “happy as a clam.” In Japanese, she says, if you had a good night’s sleep you might say you “slept like a clam” or “slept like mud.” So why do English speakers think clams are content?

 Last Word in the Dictionary
What’s the very last word in the dictionary? Depending on which dictionary you consult, it might be zythum, zyzzyva, zyxomma, or zyxt.

 iPuzzle
This week’s word puzzle from Quiz Guy Greg Pliska involves taking a word, adding an “i” to the beginning, as if creating an Apple product, to get an entirely new word. For instance: “This is how Steve Jobs begins a card game.”

 Suffonsified
A caller from Princeton, Texas, remembers that after a satisfying meal, her late father used to push back from the table and say, “I am sufficiently suffonsified. Anything more would be purely obnoxious to my taste. No thank you.” What heck did he mean by that? Discoveries about the expression and all its variants can be found in the article “Among the Old Words” by now-deceased Dictionary of American Regional English editor Frederic G. Cassidy, published in American Speech, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Winter, 1980), pp. 295-297.

 Stump-Jumper
A Vermonter says he’s sometimes called a stump-jumper. Should he be flattered or insulted?

 Bicycle Tom Swifty
Martha shares a couple of Tom Swifties, those funny sentences that make great punny use of adverbs, like “‘My bicycle wheel is damaged,’ Tom said outspokenly.”

 Hog Heaven
Why do we say that someone who’s happy is in hog heaven?

 The Origin of “Tom Swifty”
Martha tells the story behind the term Tom Swifty. Grant shares some more funny examples from the A Way with Words discussion forum.

 Gradoo
Gradoo is a word for something undesirable, the kind of thing you’d rather scrape off your shoe. A man who grew up in Louisiana wonders about the term, which he heard from both English and Cajun French speakers.

 Be There Directly
Someone who says, “I’ll be there directly,” may not necessarily get there right away. How did the meaning of directly change in some parts of the country to mean “by and by”?

 Snickelfritz
“You little snickelfritz!” An Indiana man says his mother used to call him that when she meant “You little rascal!” Although the term’s meaning has changed over time, its original meaning was a bit naughty.

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

Photo by coniferconifer. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Music Used in the Broadcast

Title Artist Album Label
Mastermind (Instrumental) Deltron 3030 Deltron 3030 75 ARK
Back Home Booker T and The MG’s Melting Pot Stax
Musings To Myself El Michels Affair Sounding Out The City Truth and Soul
Detroit Twice El Michels Affair Sounding Out The City Truth and Soul
Fuquawi Booker T and The MG’s Melting Pot Stax
Behind The Blue Curtains El Michels Affair Sounding Out The City Truth and Soul
Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off Billie Holiday All Or Nothing At All Polygram Records
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  1. bill jordan says:

    There is a history in my family to “sufficintly suffonsified’.It is now the title of Wordburglar(my son)’s song on his cd 3rdburglar available on itunes or the internet.

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