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Episode 1581

Your Imaginary Boyfriend

We use the term Milky Way for that glowing arc across the sky. But how people picture it varies from culture to culture. In Sweden, that starry band goes by a name that means “Winter Street,” and in Hawaii, a term for the Milky Way...

Episode 1599

What in Tarnation

Language is always evolving, and that’s also true for American Sign Language. A century ago, the sign for “telephone” was one fist below your mouth and the other at your ear, as if you’re holding an old-fashioned candlestick...

Silver Thaw

In the Eastern and Southern United States, freezing rain that leaves everything covered with ice is simply known as an ice storm. In the Pacific Northwest, this sort of rain followed by a hard freeze goes by a more poetic name: silver thaw. This is...

Episode 1538

Little Shavers

The word hipster might seem recent, but it actually originated in the 1930s when it referred to jazz aficionados who were in the know about the best nightclubs and cool music. Speaking of music, a professional musician reports that it’s...

Gitch Means Underwear, Somewhere

Jordan from Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada, says that when he used the word gitch, his colleagues from the United States had no idea it meant “underwear.” The Second Edition of A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles has a...