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Left in the Lurch

A restaurant manager in Kokomo, Indiana, had an employee who failed to show up for work. This left him wondering about the phrase left in the lurch. It probably derives from an old game similar to backgammon called lourche, the object of which is to...

A Blue Million

Ian in Clyde, North Carolina, is puzzled when a colleague uses the term blue million, meaning “a large amount.” Along with words like zillion and gazillion, this expression functions as an indefinite hyperbolic numeral. Sometimes the...

Encyclopedia Britannica Spines

Now that the Encyclopedia Britannica is going to an online-only format, one of many things we’ll miss is the accidental poetry on the books’ spines. In the age of endless digital information, volumes like Accounting-Architecture and...

Lunatic Fringe

In this week’s episode, “It was bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Martha and Grant discuss their favorite first lines from novels. Also this week, palmer-housing, beanplating, meeting cute, bad...

Get Web Soon

Ben Schott’s language blog Schott’s Vocab on the New York Times website held a contest for modern age greeting cards called Get Web Soon. Among the favorites: “Heartfelt condolences on the loss of your data” and...

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