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Episode 1584

Sleepy Winks

It was a dark and stormy night. So begins the long and increasingly convoluted prose of Edwards Bulwer-Lytton’s best-known novel. Today the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest asks contestants for fanciful first sentences that are similarly...

Skell Slang

Will, an emergency medical technician in Queens, New York, offers this bit of lingo from his line of work: skell, meaning a “lowlife.” In South African slang, the word skelm means the same thing. Will and his colleagues also use the term...

Episode 1533

Life of Riley

Unwrap the name of a candy bar, and you just might find a story inside. For instance, one chewy treat found in many a checkout lane is named after a family’s beloved horse. And: 50 years ago in the United States, some Latino elementary...

Strong Work, Medical Jargon

Tom, a medical student in Minneapolis, Minnesota, says surgeons and emergency medical personnel compliment each other with the phrase strong work on that. The congratulatory expression strong work seems largely confined to medicine, though. Another...

Gorked and Crimped

What does it mean to be gorked or crimped? These slang terms for “high on drugs” are used by hospital and emergency medical services workers to help cope with the stress of such traumatic work and to build solidarity among co-workers...

shake and bake

shake and bake  n.— «Some people lay down on the floor to get below the smoke. Others began shaking open their emergency rescue shelters. Made of a reflective material, the tents are a last resort. Some firefighters ghoulishly refer to...