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Couch, Sofa, Davenport, and Chesterfield

Vince in Norristown, Pennsylvania, is pondering whether the terms couch, sofa, and davenport are all regional terms for the same piece of heavy furniture. The short answer is that throughout the United States, the term couch is the most common...

Episode 1542

Baby Blues

A hundred years ago, suffragists lobbied to win women the right to vote. Linguistically speaking, though, suffrage isn’t about “suffering.” It’s from a Latin word that involves voting. Plus: military cadences often include...

Episode 1538

Little Shavers

The word hipster might seem recent, but it actually originated in the 1930s when it referred to jazz aficionados who were in the know about the best nightclubs and cool music. Speaking of music, a professional musician reports that it’s...

Boondoggle Origin

Andrew from Annandale, Virginia, asks about the origin of the word boondoggle. Why does it mean a wasteful project or plain old busywork, but also denotes a kind of leathercraft lanyard made at camp? This is part of a complete episode.