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Zarf Hot Drink Sleeves

What do you call the cardboard sleeve that goes over a paper cup to keep your hand from getting too hot? A San Antonio, Texas, listener knows that the technical term for this sleeve is zarf, a word that comes from Arabic, originally denoting an...

Stranger: Shall I Play Mother?

One old sense of the word stranger means “a lone tea leaf floating in a cup of tea.” A longtime superstition holds that such a lone leaf means a stranger will soon show up at the door. In Britain, a host may offer to pour a cup of tea...

Wish-cycling

Recycling companies discourage what they call wish-cycling. That’s when people err on the side of tossing a questionable item in the recycling bin, like a foil lid from a cup of yogurt or some other material that they hope is recyclable. Those...

Confesso

Listener Jennifer Bragg writes: “In our home, we call an extra-strong coffee confesso. One cup and you can’t stop talking.” This is part of a complete episode.

Affordance

In architecture and design, an affordance is a part of something that serves a function, like the handle on a cup or the notch in a dictionary where you put your thumb. In language we have affordances, too, such as words that indicate a place for...