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Turn Left at the Whoopsy-Daisy

Linda from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, gives directions to her remote home by telling people to turn left after the whoopsy-daisy, her term for a sudden dip in the road. There are quite a few colloquial expressions for such abrupt depression or...

Episode 1607

Old College Try

In just seconds, online text generators and chatbots can produce whole paragraphs of sophisticated prose. But what do advances in artificial intelligence mean for writers? What is lost and what’s gained when machine-writing replaces the work...

Episode 1551

Cherry Bombs

An ornithologist says there’s a growing movement to change the name of a pink-footed bird currently called the flesh-footed shearwater. The movement reflects a growing understanding that using flesh-colored for “pink” fails to...

Cherry Bumps on a Swing

Jean in Thetford, Vermont, remembers using the term cherry bump to refer to that moment when part of a backyard swingset leaves the ground for a moment, then lands with a thump. Another term for it is cherry bomb, which can also be used for a...

Episode 1549

Navel-Gazing

In 1971, when a new public library opened in Troy, Michigan, famous authors and artists were invited to write letters to the city’s youngest readers, extolling the many benefits of libraries. One of the loveliest was from E.B. White, author of...

If a Bullfrog Had Wings

Mitchell from Arlington, Texas, wonders about his father’s expression: If a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his butt. It’s been around since at least the early 1900s, and is a variation on an older expression, If pigs had...