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Dirty Laundry (#episode 1520)

When you had sleepovers as a child, what did you call the makeshift beds you made on the floor? In some places, you call those bedclothes and blankets a pallet. This word comes from an old term for “straw.” And: What’s the story...

Intentional Misspellling of Business Names

Andrea in San Diego, California, noticed a new restaurant with a name spelled in a curious way. Is there a term for this kind of intentional misspelling used in advertising? Onomastics is the study of naming, and a good source for information about...

Episode 1514

Space Cadet

We have books for language-lovers and recommendations for history buffs. • How did the word boondoggle come to denote a wasteful project? The answer involves the Boy Scouts, a baby, a craft project, and a city council meeting. • Instead of reversing...

Counting-Out Rymes for Toes

Susan from Virginia Beach, Virginia, remembers a toe-counting game from her childhood that goes “This toe tight / this penny white / this toe tizzle / this penny wizzle.” She doesn’t recall the rest and has no idea where it came...

Catch You on the Flip Side

Some countries have strict laws about naming babies. New Zealand authorities, for example, denied a request to name some twins Fish and Chips. • Halley’s Comet seen centuries before English astronomer Edmund Halley ever spotted it...