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Episode 1539

Clever Clogs

Ribbon fall. Gallery forest. You won’t find terms like these in most dictionaries, but they and hundreds like them are discussed by famous writers in the book Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape. The book is an intriguing collection...

Off the Pickle Boat

Greg in New York, New York, says that when he looked a bit disheveled, his mother would say You look like Willie off the pickle boat. The phrase goes at least as far back as the 1890s, and the proper name has varied. The person on the pickle boat...

Episode 1534

Skookum

So you’ve long dreamed of writing fiction, but don’t know where to begin? There are lots of ways to get started — creative writing classes, local writing groups, and books with prompts to get you going. The key is to get started, and...

Three Sheets To The Wind Sailing Origins

Sister Patricia Marie in San Antonio, Texas, wonders why we use three sheets to the wind to describe someone who is inebriated. In nautical terminology, some of the ropes, or lines, attached to the corner of a sail are called sheets. If three of...

Episode 1526

Abso-Bloomin-Lutely

The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also, suppose you could invite any two authors, living or dead, to dinner. Who’s on your guest list and...

Sea-kindly

A sea-kindly boat is one that handles well on the ocean. The kindly reflects an old use of the word to mean “suited” or “suitable.” This is part of a complete episode.