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Navel-Gazing (episode #1549)

In 1971, when a new public library opened in Troy, Michigan, famous authors and artists were invited to write letters to the city’s youngest readers, extolling the many benefits of libraries. One of the loveliest was from E.B. White, author of...

Staring at One’s Own Navel

Eleanor from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, is pondering navel-gazing after being surprised to learn that her adult son was unfamiliar with the term. Staring downward at one’s belly to induce a mystical trance has a long history: The...

Goose, Esophagus

Rae from Baltimore, Maryland, works in a cardiac intervention lab where surgeons refer to the esophagus as the goose. Is that bit of medical slang limited to her workplace?  This is part of a complete episode.

Jejune and Jejunum

Jejune, meaning insipid or superficial, comes from Latin jejunus, meaning empty. The same root gives us jejunum, the part of the small intestine that is usually empty when autopsied. The same idea of emptiness is reflected in the related French and...

Betsubara, Your Dessert Stomach

You know how you can feel full after a meal, but then dessert arrives and you suddenly find a little more room? The Japanese have a term for this: betsubara, which literally means other stomach. In English, people often call it their dessert stomach...

Spleeny

Jan in Ketchikan, Alaska, says when she worked in a hospital in Maine, co-workers described a patient with a low pain threshold or otherwise reluctant to move about as spleeny. New Englanders in particular use the term spleeny to mean fussy...

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