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Fell Between Chairs

Robbie in San Antonio, Texas, wonders about an expression he heard from his mother, who spent many years in Germany. If two people have the opportunity to do something, but neither of them does it, she’d say It fell between chairs. In English...

Email Enamel

The French word for “enamel” is émail, with an acute accent on the e. To avoid confusion, the French use courriel or simply le mail to denote those electronic missives. This is part of a complete episode.

Selfie Stick

Selfie has turned out to be a word that keeps on giving. We have dronies, or selfies taken with drones; healfies, wherein fitness enthusiasts photograph themselves; and now the selfie stick, the most revolutionary selfie-taking device since arms...

Quarry Definitions

“The Quarry,” a famous painting of a buck carcass by Gustave Courbet, is a hint to another definition of quarry: the guts of an animal given to dogs after a hunt. This is part of a complete episode.

Building Storeys

Why are floors of buildings called stories (or storeys)? One theory suggests that an Latin architectural term historia once referred to the stained-glass windows or the ornate statues around the edifice. But the etymology is unclear. This is part of...

Street Art Slang

It takes some work for a writer to go all-city— a graffiti writer, that is. An art supplies dealer from Dallas shares some vocabulary from the world of street art. For example, the old act of photographing trains from benches gave birth to the term...