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Swullocking

If you need a word describe a really hot, sultry, sweltering day, you can always call say it’s swullocking. In parts of England, the dialectal verb swullock means “to broil with heat.” This is part of a complete episode.

To Repair to Another Room

If you say you’re going to repair to the drawing room after dinner, meaning that that you will “go” to that room, you’re using a word that’s completely different from the verb repair meaning “to fix.” These...

Episode 1521

Spill the Tea

If someone urges you to spill the tea, they probably don’t want you tipping over a hot beverage. Originally, the tea here was the letter T, as in “truth.” To spill the T means to “pass along truthful information.” Plus...

Episode 1519

Keep Your Powder Dry

Jacuzzi and silhouette are eponyms — that is, they derive from the names of people. An Italian immigrant to California invented the bubbly hot tub called a jacuzzi. And the word silhouette commemorates a penny-pinching treasury secretary who lasted...

Episode 1517

Hair on Your Tongue

If you speak both German and Spanish, you may find yourself reaching for a German word instead of a Spanish one, and vice versa. This puzzling experience is so common among polyglots that linguists have a name for it. • The best writers create...

Flying Pickle

How would you like to be welcomed to married life by friends and neighbors descending on your home for a noisy celebration, tearing off the labels of all your canned foods and scattering cornflakes in your bed? That tradition has almost died out...

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