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Episode 1587

Herd of Turtles

Some college students are using the word loyalty as a synonym for monogamy. Are the meanings of these words now shifting? Plus, a biologist discovers a new species of bat, then names it after a poet he admires. Also, warm memories of how a childhood...

Episode 1603

If Grandma Had Wheels

While compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, lexicographer James Murray exchanged hundreds of letters a week with authors, advisors, and volunteer researchers. A new collection online lets you eavesdrop on discussions about which words should be...

Episode 1601

Funny Papers

There are word nerds, and then there’s the woman who set up a folding chair on sidewalks throughout the country, cheerfully dispensing tips about grammar. She recounts her adventures in a new book. And the story of the brilliant pioneer of...

Episode 1600

Go Bananas

A caller wonders if she’s being hypersensitive about the way her boss addresses her in emails. Can the use of an employee’s first name ever reflect a power differential? And: a community choir director wants a term for “the act of...

A House Without a Door

A.J. Jacobs’ book The Puzzler: One Man’s Quest to Solve the Most Baffling Puzzles Ever, from Crosswords to Jigsaws to the Meaning of Life (Amazon|Bookshop) includes this brain teaser translated from Swahili: I am a house without a door. This is part...

O U R A FUN E 1

A listener in Cairns, Queensland, Australia shared this brain teaser: 11 was 1 racehorse/ 22 was 1 2 / 1111 race / 22112. It may look mystifying, but when you sound it out correctly, it makes perfect sense. The Ha Ha Bonk Book (Bookshop|Amazon) is...