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Episode 1579

Forty-Eleven Zillion

When there’s no evening meal planned at home, what do you call that scramble to cobble together your own dinner? Some people apply acronyms like YOYO — “you’re on your own” — or CORN, for “Clean Out your Refrigerator...

Have to Eat a Peck of Dirt

Andrew from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, recalls a phrase his grandmother used: You’ve got to eat a peck of dirt before you die. A peck is a unit of dry measure equal to a quarter of a bushel. Peck is also a term of approximate measure, as in to...

Informal Fridge Foraging

Roz Chast, a cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine, asked her followers on Instagram for their terms for informal fridge-foraging, and says she received more than 1700 responses, including California plate, spa plate, having weirds, eek, mustard...

Episode 1550

Queen Bee

An artist asks strangers to write haiku about the pandemic and gets back poetic, poignant glimpses of life under lockdown. Plus, the new book Queenspotting features the colorful language of beekeeping! Bees tell each other about a good source of...

Granny Beads

Angela in Dallas, Texas, remembers her mom’s admonition to wash your granny beads, meaning clean the dirt off your neck. Country music star Randy Houser sings about his own granny-beaded neck in his song “Boots On.” This is part of...

Squeaky Clean Origin

Judy in Miami, Florida, wonders how the expression squeaky clean came to mean spotless, whether literally or metaphorically. At least as early as the 1930s, the squeaky clean referred to hair that was so free of oil and dirt it makes a squeaking...