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Episode 1533

Life of Riley

Unwrap the name of a candy bar, and you just might find a story inside. For instance, one chewy treat found in many a checkout lane is named after a family’s beloved horse. And: 50 years ago in the United States, some Latino elementary...

Pick Your Brain

On our Facebook group, listeners had a spirited discussion about the expression I’d like to pick your brain, meaning “I’d like to get your advice.” It’s a metaphor for extracting knowledge, of course, but the literal...

Episode 1529

At First Blush

Book recommendations and the art of apology. Martha and Grant share some good reads, including an opinionated romp through English grammar, a Spanish-language adventure novel, an account of 19th-century dictionary wars, and a gorgeously illustrated...

What We Say When Smoke Blows Our Way

On our Facebook group, listeners discuss sayings that people use when they’re sitting around a campfire and smoke comes their way. Among them: I hate rabbits, I hate little white bunny rabbits, smoke follows the tenderfoot, and smoke follows...

Episode 1512

Bottled Sunshine

If you catch your blue jeans on a nail, you may find yourself with a winklehawk. This term, adapted into English from Dutch, means “an L-shaped tear in a piece of fabric.” And: What’s your relationship with the books on your...

Unusual Word for Ordinary Things

A teacher of English as a second language asks our Facebook group to name some unusual words for ordinary things. The group’s suggestions include winklehawk, which means an L-shaped tear in cloth, and diastema, which means a gap between...