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Episode 1590

Primary Colors

Centuries ago, monks who took a vow of silence developed their own hand signs, with hundreds of gestures, that are still in use today. Plus, how do speakers of different languages distinguish similar shades and tints of colors such as red, yellow...

Every Home Should Have a Spoon Sharpener

After our earlier conversation with Amanda in Evansville, Indiana, whose family refers to their garbage disposal as George, a listener shares his own family’s term for this device: the spoon sharpener. This is part of a complete episode.

Whoop it Up

Amanda in Indianapolis, Indiana, wonders about her mother’s exhortation whoop it up!, meaning “Get going!” It’s part of a long tradition of making noise to urge someone to hurry. This is part of a complete episode.


A listener was confused when she heard a radio announcer say a man had “Amanda Lynn” in his hands, only to find out that it was “a mandolin.” These funny misheard phrases are called mondegreens, a term coined in Sylvia...

tick and flick

tick and flick  n.— «Unallocated offenders are expected to report to a community justice office, where a duty officer, usually with little knowledge of them, ticks them off after asking basic questions—a process known as “tick and...

waterbed effect

waterbed effect  n.— «The larger chains can extract more favourable conditions from suppliers than other types of retailer can. They are able to do this because of their market shares and integrated supply chains. The result of these...