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Episode 1586

Mittens in Moonlight

Need a slang term that can replace just about any noun? Try chumpie. If you’re from Philadelphia, you may already know this handy placeholder word. And there’s Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, and … The Bronx — why do we add...

Waffle Cornflake And Other Family Words

A listener emails to say that her nonagenarian mother adopted a special project during the pandemic. She compiled a lexicon of words and phrases used by their family when the kids were growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. The resulting 33-page...

Episode 1558

Your Two Cents

Astronauts returning from space say they experience what’s called the overview effect, a new understanding of the fragility of our planet and our need to reflect on what humans all share as a species. A book about the end of the universe...

Pour Over vs. Pore Over

Do you pour over a document or pore over a document? Although it’s tempting to assume that the phrase alludes to pouring one’s attention all over something (as if your vision was a substance), the correct word is pore, a term that since...

Typefaces in History

Pity the poor typeface designer, always seeing anachronisms in movies and television. Imagine how painful it must be watching a World War II movie only to see a document printed in Snell Roundhand Bold, a font invented in 1972. Here’s typeface...

Beanplating the Bard

Hi! "It was bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen." In this week's episode of "A Way with Words," we share favorite first lines. Also, beanplating, meeting cute, looking like "a tree full of...