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See A Man About a Horse

A listener in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, recalls that his grandfather used to announce he was headed to the restroom by saying, “I have to go see a man about a horse.” An earlier version of the phrase is, “I have to go see a...

Make a Branch

“Make a branch” is a euphemism that means “to urinate,” the word branch being a dialectal term for “a small stream.” This is part of a complete episode.

Old Scratch

A longstanding injunction against mentioning the devil by name is the reason why terms like Old Ned, Old Billy, and Old Scratch have come to be euphemisms for his unholiness. This is part of a complete episode.

Electric Hootenanny

Bathroom walls, missing graffiti, and social media. Where have all the cute quips on bathroom stalls gone?  We wonder about the apparent decline of restroom graffiti. Are people saving their witticisms for Twitter and Facebook?  And: If...

Euphemisms to Show Sympathy

We’ve talked on the show before about the language of grief and the use of euphemisms like, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or, passed away. A retired Middlebury College history professor wrote us to say that it’s all very...

Month of Sundays

If you’re on tenterhooks, it means you’re in a state of anxious anticipation or suspense. But what IS a tenterhook? The answer goes back to a 15th-century manufacturing process. Also, you probably have a term for those crumbs that...

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