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Pitched Battle vs. Pitch Battle

Is it a pitched battle or a pitch battle? Originally, a pitched battle was conducted according to traditional rules of warfare, which called for combat in a prearranged time and place. The pitch in this term has to do with positioning, in much the...

Smell the Patching

An Alabama woman says her Minnesota-born husband has never heard an expression she’s used all her life. The phrase is “smell the patching,” as in “If he’s not careful, he’s going to smell the patching.” The...

Lots of Newness

Hey, will you look at that! It’s the new A Way with Words website! We’ve made it easier to search, switched to a new way of playing shows in the browser, updated it to look much better on smartphones and tablets, overhauled the episode...

Unobtanium

In the movie Avatar, the characters battle over a rare and valuable mineral called unobtanium. A mechanical engineer says he had a hard time getting into the movie because in his world, the word unobtanium means something different. This is part of...

Battle Buddies

In the Army, a battle buddy is someone assigned to be your constant companion, and it’s often shortened to just “battle.” Other words, like Upstate and cell, as in a mobile phone, have dropped the nouns they modified. This is part...

weeper

weeper  n.—Gloss: Related to the meaning of weeper ‘a hole or pipe in a wall to allow water to run off.’ «Six inches of rain between Friday night and Sunday afternoon proved too much for track crews. Crews fought a day-long...