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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...

Soda Pop Name Origin

Craig from Helena, Montana, wonders about the etymology of pop as a term for a carbonated beverage. Depending on which part of the country you’re from, you might also call this drink a soda or a coke. This is part of a complete episode.

Is “Howdy” an Uncouth Greeting?

Years ago, Derek from Omaha, Nebraska, adopted the greeting howdy, but his wife says it sounds too uncultured. In a 2012 paper in the Journal of English Linguistics by Lauren Hall Lew and Nola Stephens describe howdy as a term that is enregistered...

Put on the Dog

Why isn’t “you’re welcome” the default response to “thank you” for everyone? Plus lies that kids tell, Philadelphia lawyer, cowbelly, skutch, mind-bottling vs. mind-boggling, tsundoku, infanticipating, noisy piece...

Gap, Notch, Saddle, and Pass

What you call the space between mountains depends on which part of the country you’re in. The word gap is used more in the Southern United States, notch in the Northeast, and saddle or pass in the West. See Grant’s analysis of place...

Catch You on the Flip Side

Some countries have strict laws about naming babies. New Zealand authorities, for example, denied a request to name some twins Fish and Chips. • Halley’s Comet seen centuries before English astronomer Edmund Halley ever spotted it...