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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 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...

Tear Up Jack

The phrase tearing up Jack, which refers to “engaging in rowdy, rambunctious behavior,” has its origins in the traditional English card game known as All Fours. This game is the source of the term jack, referring to the lowest face card...

What are “Euchred” Figs?

Justin from Kalamazoo, Michigan, saw a Heinz 57 ketchup ad that mentioned euchred figs, sometimes spelled euchered. He’s familiar with the card game euchre, but why euchred figs? Although a handsome booklet produced by the H. J. Heinz company...

The Ex-Mrs. Bradford

Another followup to our conversation about items left in library books and forgotten: a former reference librarian in Denton, Texas, shares photographs of a most unusual business card hidden away in a book and found by a colleague. The front side is...

Utinam!

A retired professor of classics in Missouri suggests the Latin word Utinam! as something to exclaim if you belatedly draw the right tile or card in a game. In Latin, utinam introduces the optative subjunctive and translates as “if only.”...