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Episode 1580

Beefed It

The words tough, through, and dough all end in O-U-G-H. So why don’t they rhyme? A lively new book addresses the many quirks of English by explaining the history of words and phrases. And: have you ever been in a situation where a group makes...

Odd Couples Word Puzzle

Quiz Guy Greg Pliska addles our brains with a puzzle called Odd Couples. See if you can figure out these strange celebrity pairings who share last names. “Anyone? Bueller, Bueller, Bueller” and “Bueller is Bueller is...

Antipudic

What do you call those convenient props in illustrations and movies that cover up the naughty bits? A listener remembers an old illustrated copy of The Emperor’s New Clothes that made clever use of twigs and berries for covering, well, the...

Hootenanny

What does hoot mean? You might describe someone as a real hoot. But is the hoot in the phrase “not give a hoot” a different kind of hoot? Grant explains that in the positive case, hoot is a shortening of hootenanny, a informal party with...

Hurt Locker Etymology

The 2010 winner of the “Best Picture” Oscar has a Seattle woman wondering about the term hurt locker. Ben Zimmer wrote about it recently in his column at the Visual Thesaurus and we talk about it, too. Here’s the searing poem by...

Shining Me On

“Are you shining me on?” means “Are you trying to fool me?” But what does shining have to do with tricking someone? This is part of a complete episode.