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A Pain Under the Pinny

Lois in Newfoundland, Canada, asks about the phrase pain in the pinny, meaning “stomach discomfort.” Pain in the pinny, or more commonly pain under the pinny, refers to a pain under one’s pinafore, or apron, the word pinafore...

Episode 1545

Baby’s Breath

Have you ever googled your own name and found someone else who goes by the very same moniker? There’s a word for that: googleganger. Plus, the language of hobbyists and enthusiasts: If you’re a beekeeper, perhaps you call yourself a...

Cover the Sun With a Finger

Sam in Westville, Indiana, heard a woman from Puerto Rico use the expression You cannot cover the sun with a finger, referring to the problem of having more things to work on than she could handle. The Spanish expression tapar el sol con un dedo, or...

Episode 1541

Walkie Talkie

One of the most powerful words you’ll ever hear — and one of the most poignant — isn’t in dictionaries yet. But it probably will be one day. The word is endling, and it means “the last surviving member of a species.” The...

The Meaning of Swarf

Mark in Bostonia, California, works in a machine shop where a sign warned: Beware of coolant and swarf. The word swarf refers to filings or dust created from machine work. Swarf can also function as a verb meaning “to cover with dust or grit...