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To Be Honest With You

What does a person really mean when she starts a statement with “to be honest with you”? It’s important not to take such expressions too literally. This is part of a complete episode.

Broken Back in Hell

Martha’s fond of videos about Appalachian dialect, and in one she came across the expression, “I’d just as soon be in hell with my back broke,” meaning “I strongly prefer to be anywhere else.” This is part of a...

Cat Face

Cat face is a cute way to describe something like a piece of fruit or a tree that’s grown in on itself, giving it a puckered kind of indentation. Particularly in the African-American community, it’s used to denote a wrinkle to be ironed...

Softening Imperatives with Maybe

When someone says maybe, are they suggesting an option, or merely being polite? A caller from Anna, Texas, met a Canadian who used the word maybe to soften his imperatives. The same effect is often achieved with conditional phrases: “Would you...

Slang Quiz with June Casagrande

In this week’s installment of “Slang This!,” Grant and Martha are joined by June Casagrande, author of Mortal Syntax: 101 Language Choices That Will Get you Clobbered by the Grammar Snobs — Even If You’re Right. June...

yo-yo financing

yo-yo financing  n.— «The consumer signed a financing contract with the dealer without fully understanding the terms, or the contract was incomplete or not in writing. The customer assumes the credit deal is finalized and the car is theirs...

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