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Fell Between Chairs

Robbie in San Antonio, Texas, wonders about an expression he heard from his mother, who spent many years in Germany. If two people have the opportunity to do something, but neither of them does it, she’d say It fell between chairs. In English...

Email Enamel

The French word for “enamel” is émail, with an acute accent on the e. To avoid confusion, the French use courriel or simply le mail to denote those electronic missives. This is part of a complete episode.

Wearing a Commode on Your Head

During the reign of France’s Louis XIV, you could wear a commode on your head. Commode referred to a wire frame worn on the head to support an elaborate headdress. This is part of a complete episode.

stained-glass ceiling

stained-glass ceiling n. a barrier to the advancement of women within the hierarchy of a church. Etymological Note: This is a specific form of “glass ceiling,” which is the barrier to advancement of women in any profession. A related...


quillow n. a pillow that unfolds into a quilt; a quilt that folds up into a pillow. Etymological Note: quilt + pillow (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)