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A Millionaire’s Family

In another episode, we discussed pigeon pair, or “a daughter and son,” an allusion to the old belief that pigeons and doves always have two chicks, one of each sex. A millionaire’s family or a million-dollar family is “a...

“Scat Cat!” Sneeze Response

Dexter in Clintonville, Alabama, reports that his Minnesota-born wife was baffled after she sneezed and he responded with Scat cat! Across the American South, this phrase and variations of it serve as an informal response when someone sneezes. Other...

Episode 1557

Sock it to Me

In the 15th century, the word respair meant “to have hope again.” Although this word fell out of use, it’s among dozens collected in a new book of soothing vocabulary for troubled times. Plus, baseball slang: If a batter...

Amethyst Etymology

The ancient Greeks believed that the precious purple stone called an amethyst had the power to prevent a person from becoming intoxicated. That belief is reflected in the name of this gem, which comes from the Greek prefix a- meaning...

Fever Blister vs. Cold Sore

Rebecca in Austin, Texas, wonders why the terms cold sore and fever blister describe pretty much the same thing. Also, why do we say we have a cold, but we have the flu? The word flu comes from the Italian word for influence, influenza, and is a...