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Thickly Settled

Marisa in Bellingham, Washington, was puzzled by a traffic sign in Massachusetts that read “Thickly Settled.” As far back as the 1830s, the term thickly settled was used in the Massachusetts legal code to refer to an area with a lot of...

Hospital Lingo

Next time you’re at a hospital, listen for staffer’s code slang like suitcase sign, meaning “the patient is determined to check himself in no matter what,” or a gown sign, meaning they suspect a patient of getting ready to...

Crankshaft and Basketbrawl

Grant offers examples from his latest words of the year list, including Crankshaft (the code name for the Osama Bin Laden), and basketbrawl, referring to the fight that broke out between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Chinese National Team. This is...

Kentucky Fried Vista

Ciao! In this week's archive episode: If your family has guests over, how do you warn each other if one of you has a stray crumb on the face? Some families do so with the surreptitious code phrase, "There's a gazelle on the lawn."...

When Words Collide

A hazy, hot, and humid hello! In this week’s archive episode, we take on headlines that make you do a double take, such as “Child’s Stool Great for Use in Garden” and “Milk Drinkers Turn To Powder.” We discuss a...

Postal Abbreviations (minicast)

What’s the deal with using the two-letter postal code abbreviations for states, instead of the longer, more formal abbreviations? That is, why write IN for Indiana instead of good old Ind.? A caller is annoyed by U.S. Postal Service...