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Episode 1556

Good Vibrations

Asthenosphere, a geologist’s term for the molten layer beneath the earth’s crust, sparks a journey that stretches all the way from ancient Greece to the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Plus: What the heck is a dogberg? It’s when...

Episode 1557

Sock it to Me

In the 15th century, the word respair meant “to have hope again.” Although this word fell out of use, it’s among dozens collected in a new book of soothing vocabulary for troubled times. Plus, baseball slang: If a batter...

Tiffin Meal

Nick from San Antonio, Texas, says his father used to use the word tiffin to denote a meal or snack made of leftovers. It’s a word borrowed from Indian English which was itself borrowed from the English verb tiff, which means “to eat or...

How Was “Gnarly” Coined?

A surfer in Imperial Beach, California, wonders who coined the word gnarly to describe waves that are particularly challenging. This term may have originated in the slang of surfers in South Africa in the 1970s and eventually spread into everyday...