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Lifebuoy Soap Pronunciation

As we noted in an earlier conversation, people in the United States usually pronounce the word buoy as BOO-ee, but their counterparts in Britain tend to pronounce it BOY. Commercials airing in the U.S. for Lifebuoy soap use the British...

Pour Over vs. Pore Over

Do you pour over a document or pore over a document? Although it’s tempting to assume that the phrase alludes to pouring one’s attention all over something (as if your vision was a substance), the correct word is pore, a term that since...

The Asthenosphere

The asthenosphere, as described in Brian Kevin’s Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks guide (Bookshop|Amazon) is a gurgling sea of plasticized rock beneath the earth’s rocky crust. Asthenosphere derives from Greek asthenes...

Episode 1542

Baby Blues

A hundred years ago, suffragists lobbied to win women the right to vote. Linguistically speaking, though, suffrage isn’t about “suffering.” It’s from a Latin word that involves voting. Plus: military cadences often include...

Origin of Suffrage

Ronna from Jackson, Wyoming, asks about the word suffrage, meaning “the right to vote.” It goes back to the Latin word suffragium, which in ancient Rome meant a “voting tablet,” but  beyond that, this word’s...

Episode 1535

Beside Myself

The new Downton Abbey movie is a luscious treat for fans of the public-television period piece, but how accurate is the script when it comes to the vocabulary of the early 20th century? It may be jarring to hear the word swag, but it was already at...