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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...

Acetabulum

A dental student wonders about acetabulum, the anatomical term for the hip socket. Martha traces it back to the Latin word for “vinegar cup.” In ancient Rome, households had a vinegar cup on the dinner table for dipping bits of food. The...

It’s in My Wheelhouse

What was your first word? Grant and Martha talk about how children acquire language. Also, if you say that something’s in your wheelhouse, you mean that it’s within your area of expertise. But why “wheelhouse”? And what does...

flitillary

flitillary  n.— «The erratic, zigzagging flight of courting and songbird-evading fritillaries prompt some people to refer to them as “flitillaries.” Actually, the genus name probably derives from fritillus, a cylindrical cup used by the...

murphy style

murphy style  n.— «I ask this question in the Christmas section because you always see gift packs with coffee beans and it’s not instant coffee. And I am always worried that the gift receipient doesn’t have a coffee maker. Yes, you can...