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Deviled Eggs (episode #1554)

Some TV commercials launch catchphrases that stick around long after the original ads. The exclamation Good stuff, Maynard! is still a compliment almost 40 years after it was used in a commercial for Malt-O-Meal hot cereal. And: what do you call...

Play It by Ear (episode #1553)

How does social context shape our perception of language? When hiking the Appalachian Trail, a young woman from Wyoming found that fellow hikers assumed she was from another country, not only because of how she spoke, but also how she looked...

Goody Two-Shoes (episode #1543)

She sells seashells by the seashore. Who is the she in this tongue twister? Some claim it’s the young Mary Anning, who went on to become a famous 19th-century British paleontologist. Dubious perhaps, but the story of her rise from seaside...

Lie Like a Rug

The words we choose can change attitudes — and change lives. A swing-dance instructor has switched to gender-neutral language when teaching couples. He says that using words like “leader” and “follower” actually works better...

That Old-Book Smell

You walk into a used bookstore, or pull down an old volume at the library, and there it is: The smell of old books. If you detect notes of vanilla in that intoxicating scent, there’s a reason. Also, why some people think the word awesome is...

Fat Buttery Words

Teaching our children, and some advice for writers. Suppose your child is eager to tackle a difficult subject–ancient Greek, for example–but you know his reach exceeds his grasp? The challenge is to support the child’s curiosity...

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