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Episode 1574

Scooter-Pooting

Old. Elderly. Senior. Why are we so uncomfortable when we talk about reaching a certain point in life? An 82-year-old seeks a more positive term to describe how she feels about her age. And: a linguist helps solve a famous kidnapping case, using the...

Bus Bunching

You’re waiting for a bus. You wait, and then you wait some more. Finally, two or three buses show up at once, all headed for the same destination. Public transportation professionals have a term for this — several, in fact: bus bunching...

Episode 1522

Strawberry Moon

We asked for your thoughts about whether cursive writing should be taught in schools — and many of you replied with a resounding “Yes!” You said cursive helps develop fine motor skills, improves mental focus, and lets you read old...

Hornicaboogery

A Texas caller says her West Virginia-born mother uses the word hornicaboogery to mean “germs” or “the creeping crud.” Among the many such joking names for imaginary illnesses are gollywobbles, collywobbles, carlymarbles...

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...

Bus Number 11

Our conversation about slang terms for traveling by foot prompted an email from Tom in Canton, Texas, who reports that while living in Israel, he used to hear fellow high school students say in Arabic that they were taking bus number 11, the long...