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Dashboards, From Wagons to Digital Screens

Gerald from Gaspee Point, Rhode Island, wants to know the story behind the term dashboard. Originally a dashboard was wood or leather placed at the front in horse-drawn vehicles to keep the driver and passengers from being dashed with mud, water, or...

Are Surprises Inherently Positive?

Nadine in San Antonio, Texas, disagrees with her boyfriend, who insists that the word surprise suggests something inherently good, so it’s impossible to call something a bad surprise. A quick look at data from the Brigham Young University...

Munge and Kludge

In the 1940s, the noun munge was student slang for crud or filth, then later became a verb denoting the action of messing with data in a way that might produce the equivalent of trash or rubbish. Over time, munge, which was sometimes spelled mung...

Online Dialect Study Wants Your Input

Bert Vaux, the linguist whose data was the basis of the wildly popular New York Times Dialect Quiz, is collecting more data about American English, and invites you to take a survey. The answers will help inform a new app he’s working on. This...

We have the results!

Help support A Way with Words broadcasts and podcasts by making a donation now. Dear friends, Last week we sent out a simple survey to tens of thousands of A Way with Words listeners and fans. Our goal: to find out your consensus on the state of the...

Popular Names by Profession

The folks at the baby-name app Nametrix crunched some data and found that certain names are disproportionately represented in different professions. The name Leonard, for example, happens to be particularly common among geologists, and Marthas are...

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