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Colder Than Blitney

Nick in Cincinnati, Ohio, is fond of his Appalachian-born grandmother’s phrase colder than blitney, meaning “extremely cold” or “cold as the dickens.” It’s likely a version of cold as blixen, which has a number of...

Flow of Electricity

The behavior of electricity has long been likened to that of liquid: it flows in a current, and can be turned on and off in a closed system. So it’s not surprising that we talk of getting juice for a phone’s a battery by plugging it into...

Phonetically Balanced Sentences

“These days, a chicken leg is a rare dish” might sound like an odd thing to observe, but during World War II, it was among dozens of phonetically balanced sentences devised by researchers for testing cockpit transmissions and headphones...

Apache Thunder Proverb

An Apache proverb goes It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand. This is part of a complete episode.


The term mesmerize, meaning to attract strongly or hold spellbound, comes from Franz Mesmer, the German doctor who purported to heal people by righting their internal magnetic forces. This is part of a complete episode.

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