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The Circus Left. The Clowns Remain.

Following our conversation about the dismissive phrase, Not my circus, not my monkeys, Nelly, who is a professor of French and Russian in Marquette, Michigan, shares a handy Russian saying that translates as “the circus left, the clowns remain...

Scooter-Pooting (episode #1574)

Old. Elderly. Senior. Why are we so uncomfortable when we talk about reaching a certain point in life? An 82-year-old seeks a more positive term to describe how she feels about her age. And: a linguist helps solve a famous kidnapping case, using the...

Another Country Heard From

Another country heard from is a joking remark you may hear after a baby squalls. The original phrase, another county heard from, was used in the 19th century to announce election results as they slowly trickled in. This is part of a complete episode.

Deadpan Expression

Deadpan, an adjective used to describe a flat or unsmiling affect, as in deadpan humor, derives from the use of pan as a slang term for “face.”

This is part of a complete episode.


The joke I have a good carriwitchet, but it’s really obscure makes more sense if you know that a carriwitchet is an obscure term that means “a riddling question.” This is part of a complete episode.

Cabin Fever (episode #1547)

The adjectives canine and feline refer to dogs and cats. But how does English address other groups of animals? Plus, cabin fever has been around much longer than the current pandemic. That restless, antsy, stir-crazy feeling goes back to the days...