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Episode 1621

Gleam in Your Eye

A remarkable new documentary explores the world of amateur and professional mermaiding and the language bubbling up within it. Some mermaiding enthusiasts greet each other with a friendly “Shello!” Plus, an adoptee wonders what to call...

Out at the Elbows

While reading a translation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Idiot (Bookshop|Amazon), a listener is puzzled by the sentence For the most part these omniscient gentlemen are out at elbow, and receive a salary of seventeen rubles a month. What...

Episode 1447


How often do you hear the words campaign and political in the same breath? Oddly enough, 19th-century grammarians railed against using campaign to mean “an electoral contest.” Martha and Grant discuss why. And, lost in translation: a...

Elbow Clerk

Speaking to a conference of judges and lawyers, Grant learns the term elbow clerk, meaning a clerk who works in the judge’s chambers. This is part of a complete episode.

Around My Elbow to My Thumb

A colloquial apology for telling an overly long story is “Sorry I had to go around my elbow to get to my thumb.” The phrase is also a handy way to indicate you took the opposite of a shortcut. This is part of a complete episode.

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