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Leather Britches Beans

A woman in Virginia Beach, Virginia, says her Appalachia-born grandmother would occasionally say that it was time to string the leather britches or to hang up the leather britches. She was referring to preserving green beans. So why the leather and...

Cipher and Secret Letter Code

Great news for scavenger-hunt designers, teenage sleepover guests, and anyone else interested in being cryptic! The old-school commercial codes used for hiding information from the enemy in a telegraphs is at your fingertips on archive.org. Have fun...

Got Your Six

Starting this year, Scripps National Spelling Bee contestants not only have to spell words correctly. A controversial new rule means they’ll have to answer vocabulary questions, too. Also, when it comes to reading text, do you prefer...

New Spelling Bee Rules

The Scripps National Spelling Bee, long beloved for its youngsters stammering out words like appoggiatura, is about to change this year, when they’re also forced to define words like appoggiatura. Officials added two rounds of computerized...

Obscure Spelling Words

Why do spelling bees in the United States use so many bizarre, obsolete, ginormous, and Brobdingnagian words? Webster’s New International Dictionary, 3rd Edition, published in 1961, is still the standard for spelling bees, and thus contains...