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Loyalty and Monogamy

Kristin, a college professor in Dubuque, Iowa, teaches a class in the U.S. history of sexuality. She’s intrigued by the way her students increasingly use the word loyalty as a synonym for monogamy. Perhaps the word monogamy sounds more...

Not Only Gertrude, but Mabel, Too

Our conversation about women who use the nicknames Gertie or Gert as jokingly affectionate terms for each other, prompted a listener in Melbourne, Australia, to speculate that it’s a nod to Gertrude Lawrence, an English performer who rose to...

Desperate Ambrose

Deborah in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, remembers a phrase from her grandfather: Desperate Ambrose. He’s so desperate he would steal a hot stove. The first part is a reference to Desperate Ambrose, a character in the comic strip...

Episode 1557

Sock it to Me

In the 15th century, the word respair meant “to have hope again.” Although this word fell out of use, it’s among dozens collected in a new book of soothing vocabulary for troubled times. Plus, baseball slang: If a batter...