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A Blue Million

Ian in Clyde, North Carolina, is puzzled when a colleague uses the term blue million, meaning “a large amount.” Along with words like zillion and gazillion, this expression functions as an indefinite hyperbolic numeral. Sometimes the...

Tweet Nothings

How much humor and personality can you pack into a 140-character update? A lot, it turns out. Martha and Grant talk about funny Twitter feeds. Also this week, the origins of skosh and “can’t hold a candle,” why dragonflies are...

bubble capital

bubble capital  n.— «Bank PHB was also accused of having resorted to illegalities in the acquisition bid as two-thirds of the 33 per cent it claimed were “rejected” and “warehoused” shares. The rejected shares, also referred to as “bubble...

The Lipstick Express (minicast)

Hockey mom, mavericky, snow machines, and—how could we forget that other memorable phrase from the 2008 presidential campaign?—lipstick on a pig. Some new and not-so-new terms leapt onto the national stage during Gov. Sarah Palin‘s run for the...

whistler

whistler  n.— «In other measurements, Venus Express detected the bursts of radio waves known as “whistlers,” which, at least on Earth, are generated by lightning.» —“New Findings Underscore an Earth-Venus Kinship” by...

freshmore

freshmore  n.—Gloss: a student in the second year of high school without enough credits to take sophomore classes. «“We’re really focusing harder now on the freshmen and sophomores so they don’t turn into what’s called ’freshmores,'”...