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Unkept vs. Unkempt

Do you describe someone with a sloppy appearance as being unkempt or unkept? A garden that’s been neglected might be described as unkept, but when it comes to personal appearance, someone who’s disheveled is far more commonly described...

To Fret Someone

At our recent appearance in Dallas, Texas, a listener asked about the use of fret as a transitive verb, as in “Don’t fret that child.” This usage is particularly common in the American South, and comes from the old notion of fret...

Episode 1516

Train of Thought

Chances are you recognize the expressions Judgment Day and root of all evil as phrases from the Bible. There are many others, such as the powers that be and bottomless pit, which both first appeared in scripture. • There’s a term for when the...

More Expressions from the Bible

The earliest recorded appearance of the phrases a house divided cannot stand and the powers that be occurred in early English translations of the Bible. Although the exact phrase a fly in the ointment isn’t in the Bible, the idea of a dead fly...

Spur of the Moment

A caller with a 25-year-old parrot wonders: How much language do birds really understand? Plus, Knock-knock. Who’s there? Boo. Well… you can guess the rest. But there was a time when these goofy jokes were a brand-new craze sweeping the nation...

Welded Palindromes Quiz

Our Quiz Guy Greg Pliska has a game called Welded Palindromes, with two-word phrases spelled the same forwards and backwards. What do you call your first appearance on TV? A tube debut. What kind of beer does a king drink? Why, a regal lager, of...