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Episode 1519

Keep Your Powder Dry

Jacuzzi and silhouette are eponyms — that is, they derive from the names of people. An Italian immigrant to California invented the bubbly hot tub called a jacuzzi. And the word silhouette commemorates a penny-pinching treasury secretary who lasted...

What is a Sandwich?

Sarah from Dallas called us years ago to talk about the word preheat. Now newly married, she and her Russian husband have a friendly dispute over this question: “What is a sandwich?” We gingerly wade into the longstanding cultural debate...

Episode 1509

Ding-Ding Man

In 1803, a shy British pharmacist wrote a pamphlet that made him a reluctant celebrity. The reason? He proposed a revolutionary new system for classifying clouds — with Latin names we still use today, like cumulus, cirrus, and stratus. Also: when...

T Jones in Dallas

Brad from Allen, Texas, is curious about a term he’s heard only in Texas. It’s used to refer affectionately to a mother or grandmother: T Jones. Most uses of this term for a parent or grandmother seem to occur in the Dallas area...

Coinkydink Coincidence

Sundance from Dallas, Texas, says his family uses the word coinkydink for coincidence. It’s an intentional malapropism, like the playful pronunciation of schedule as skeduly and difficulty as difulgaty. Coinkydink has been around since at...