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Asbestos 451

Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 (Bookshop|Amazon) takes its title from the temperature at which book pages burn. Some 200 copies of the first edition of the book were bound with an unusual material: asbestos. A few are still...

Hot Dog, Cold Turkey

Why do we call a frankfurter a hot dog? It seems an unsettling 19th-century rumor is to blame. Also, if someone quits something abruptly, why do we say they quit cold turkey? This term’s roots may lie in the history of boxing. Plus, a...

How America Talks

For language lovers, it’s like New Year’s, Fourth of July, and the Super Bowl all rolled into one: The brand-new online edition of the Dictionary of American Regional English. Martha and Grant explain what all the fuss is about. Plus...

$10,000 and 1400 Pounds of Dictionaries

When I read this narrative about the making of the first edition of the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus by former coworker Erin McKean, I was reminded of something that happened. I was one of the book’s editors and worked with its...

Lots of Newness

Hey, will you look at that! It’s the new A Way with Words website! We’ve made it easier to search, switched to a new way of playing shows in the browser, updated it to look much better on smartphones and tablets, overhauled the episode...