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Do Me a Solid

What’s in YOUR spice rack? Say you’re cooking up a pot of chili, and you need to add more of that warm, earthy, powdered spice. Do you reach for a bottle of KOO-min? KYOO-min? Or are you going to add KUMM-in? The pronunciation given in...

An Issue with “Issue”

A listener from Madison, Wisconsin, has an issue with the word issue. She doesn’t like it being used as a synonym for problem. But the American Heritage Usage Panel has come around to accepting the new use of issue, so if that’s a...

Cute as a Button

Did you ever wonder why we capitalize the pronoun “I,” but not any other pronoun? Also, the romantic story behind the term halcyon days, the origin of the phrase “like white on rice,” and the linguistic scuttlebutt on the...

No Skin Off My Nose

If it’s no skin off your nose, there’s no harm done. This idiom, which the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms suggests may come from boxing, means the same thing as no skin off my back or no skin off my ear. If you have other idioms...

Kissing Games

What’s the best way to help your child learn to speak a foreign language? One option is an immersion school, where teachers avoid speaking English. Also, did you ever play padiddle while riding in a car? Plus, what your signature says about...

Lawyer vs. Attorney

What’s the difference between a lawyer and an attorney? None, really, for most of us. In the past, though, the word attorney could also refer more generally to a person you “turned to” to represent you, regardless of whether that...