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Episode 1503

Piping Hot

The game of baseball has alway inspired colorful commentary. Sometimes that means using familiar words in unfamiliar ways. The word stuff, for example, can refer to a pitcher’s repertoire, to the spin on a ball, or what happens to the ball...

Brollies and Bumbershoots

If you think they refer to umbrellas as bumbershoots in the UK, think again. The word bumbershoot actually originated in the United States! In Britain, it’s prolly a brolly. • Also: snow-grooming language, more than one way to say bagel...

Strong Like Bull

A woman in Fairbanks, Alaska, says she’s been described as strong like ox, smart like streetcar. Is that a compliment? Other variations include strong like bull and smart like tractor or smart like dump truck. The phrase strong like bull was...

Monkey’s Wedding

It’s the art of constructive feedback: If you’re a teacher with a mountain of papers to grade, you may find yourself puzzling over which kinds of notes in the margins work best. Martha and Grant discuss strategies for effective paper...

Blow a Gasket

The Pope has several Twitter feeds — and one of them’s entirely in Latin! But how do you adapt an ancient language to the modern world of selfies and hashtags? Plus, pit bull lovers are giving their dogs a linguistic makeover;...