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Case Quarter in South Carolina

Jennifer in Andrews, South Carolina, is curious about the term case quarter, meaning “a single 25-cent coin — not two dimes and a nickel and not five nickels.” It’s heard mainly in South Carolina, particularly among African...

Picayune

Mike calls from Bloomsberg, Pennsylvania to ask about the word picayune, meaning “petty.” Why would a New Orleans newspaper call itself The Times-Picayune? The adjective picayune, meaning “trifling” or...

Naming a City with a Coin Toss

The city of Portland, Oregon, where Martha and Grant recently took their live show, owes its name to a coin toss. The city’s founders, Asa Lovejoy of Boston, Massachusetts, and Frances Pettygrove of Portland, Maine, each wanted to name it for...

Cross and Pile Coin Toss

An old version of the heads or tails coin toss is cross or pile or cross and pile. That’s because an old English coin was marked with a cross on one side and pile meant the back of a coin. This is part of a complete episode.

Etymology of Google

Before the search engine Google, there was the word googol. As mathematician Edward Kasner recounts in his book Mathematics and the Imagination, he asked his 9-year-old nephew Milton to coin a word for a huge number, specifically 10 to the 100th...