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Episode 1597

I Don’t Have the Spoons

Whether it’s a Rubik’s cube or a round of Wordle, why do so many of us find puzzles irresistible? A new book celebrates the allure and psychological benefits of brain teasers. Plus, powerful language for talking about the chronic...

Ditloid Puzzles

A ditloid uses numerals and initial letters to suggest a phrase, such as 26 L in the A, or 52 W in a Y. Sometimes called an equation analysis test, this type of puzzle was dubbed a ditloid by a newspaper columnist who clued the name of Alexander...

Episode 1596

Excuse the Hogs

When a teenager went a week without talking as part of a school project, he noticed a surprising side effect: Instead of rehearsing a response to what other people were saying to him, he was focused on listening — and feeling smarter as a result...

Episode 1591

Pushing the Envelope

Sure, there’s winter, spring, summer, and fall. But the seasons in between have even more poetic names. In Alaska, greenup describes a sudden, dramatic burst of green after a long, dark winter. And there are many, many terms for a cold snap...

Off We Go, Laughing and Scratching

After our conversation about Off we go like a herd of turtles, often said by a parent gathering kids to leave the house, Joanna in Santa Cruz, California, shares the one she heard from her father: Here we go, laughing and scratching! In 1939...

Episode 1513

Howling Fantods

Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing drug-laced dollar bills, or that AM radio stations only broadcast in the morning? • A moving new...