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A Capital Mistake

Jonah, a music teacher, in Baltimore, Maryland, shares a funny story about a student who misunderstood his question about the capital of his home state. That left Jonah wondering about the difference between the words capital and capitol. The former...

Hang for a Sheep

Rick calls from Rouses Point, New York, to ask about the etymology of the phrase to hang for a sheep as for a lamb, meaning to go for broke or to go all out. The answer involves the old tradition of capital punishment for poaching animals. Given the...

Puzzle Hunt Word Game

Our Quiz Master John Chaneski leads us on a puzzle hunt, starting in a world capital that’s a homophone for a type of music or food. (Hint: This Asian capital hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics.) This is part of a complete episode.

History of Capital and Lowercase

There’s a reason why we have both capital and lowercase letters. As the alphabet went from the Phoenicians to the Greeks to the Romans, letters took on new sounds, and the need to write quickly brought about the introduction of lowercase...

Beanplating the Bard

Hi! "It was bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen." In this week's episode of "A Way with Words," we share favorite first lines. Also, beanplating, meeting cute, looking like "a tree full of...

Texas ratio

Texas ratio  n.— «In banking, distress can be gauged by comparing the amounts of delinquent loans and other nonperforming assets on the books against capital and loan-loss reserves—a measure known in the industry as a “Texas ratio.” A...