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What are Good Terms for Old People?

Mary in Alexandria, Virginia, wonders when words like senior and senior citizen came to mean “elderly.” Senior comes from Latin senex, “old,” the source also of Senate and senile. In the 1930s, a politician helped popularize...

“The End of Everything,” by Katie Mack

Martha recommends The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) (Bookshop|Amazon) by Katie Mack, an assistant professor of physics at North Carolina State University. It’s a challenging read, but accessible enough to lay readers to provide...

Thistle Tongue Twister

A listener shares a tongue twister he learned at the age of five: Theophilus Thistle sifter, while sifting a sieve of unsifted thistles, thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb. Another version goes If Theophilus Thistle, the...

Because Internet

The new book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language is a smart, engaging, introduction to language and linguistics in general. It’s also rich with insights about how we communicate online. With verve, wit, and nerdy delight...

BP, Before Present, Dating

Jessica in Omaha, Nebraska, was excited to discover an arrowhead, then puzzled when archaeologists told her that its age was probably between 6000-3000 BP. Why do some scientists measure time with the designation BP, or Before Present, instead of BC...

Age of the Turkey

The Spanish phrase estar en la edad del pavo literally translates as “to be in the age of the turkey” — to be at an awkward age. Comer pavo, literally “to eat turkey,” means to sit alone at a dance because no one has asked...

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