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Doofunny, Dofunny

Nikki in Northampton, Massachusetts, wonders about a term her dad used for someone who’s a little odd or weird: do funny. As far back as the 1850s, Do funny or Doo funny was an amusing last name for characters in satire, whether in newspapers...

Etymology of “Lynch”

A trip to Montgomery, Alabama, to visit The Legacy Museum chronicling the African-American experience, the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University, and the profoundly moving National Memorial for Peace and Justice prompts Martha to delve into the...

Pat and Charlie Folktale

There’s a story in the African-American folktale tradition about two tired mules named Pat and Charlie. Here’s a version from American Negro Folktales by Richard Dorson. This is part of a complete episode.

Episode 1444

Pink Slip

Politicians have to repeat themselves so often that they naturally develop a repertoire of stock phrases to fall back on. But is there any special meaning to subtler locutions, such as beginning a sentence with the words “Now, look…”...

Proof in the Pudding

Have you ever offered to foster a dog or cat, but wound up adopting instead? There’s an alliterative term for that. And when you’re on the job, do niceties like “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir” make you sound too...