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The Last Straw

In this episode, books for word lovers, from a collection of curious words to some fun with Farsi. • Some people yell “Geronimo!” when they jump out of an airplane, but why? • We call something that heats air a heater, so why do we call...

Yelling Geronimo

A man in Surprise, Arizona, wonders why people jumping into a pool sometimes yell “Geronimo!” The history of this exclamation goes back to an eponymous 1939 movie about the famed Apache warrior Geronimo. The film was popular on U.S...

Hidden Treasures

A new online archive of Civil War letters offers a vivid portrait of the everyday lives of enlisted men. These soldiers lacked formal education so they wrote and spelled by ear. The letters show us how ordinary people spoke then. • Is there a single...

Bobbery

The term bobbery means a noisy disturbance or hubub. The word’s origin is disputed, although one explanation is that it comes from the Hindi exclamation “Bap re!” or literally, “Oh father!” This is part of a complete...

Butterflies in Your Stomach

If you’re not using a dictionary to look up puzzling words as you read them, you’re missing out on a whole other level of enjoyment. • When you’re cleaning house, why not clean like there’s literally no tomorrow? The term...

Exclamation Word Puzzle

Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a quiet quiz involving words that are usually shouted. Suppose, for example, someone said, “Excuse me, Mr. Horse, I’d appreciate it if you stopped. What’s the exclamation suggested by this request? This...