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Episode 1536

The Black Dog

Books were rare treasures in the Middle Ages, painstakingly copied out by hand. So how to protect them from theft? Scribes sometimes added a curse to the first page of those books that was supposed to keep thieves away — and some were as vicious as...

Auntie

Many listeners responded to our conversation about the use of the term auntie to refer to an older woman who is not a blood relative. It turns out that throughout much of Africa, Asia, as well as among Native Americans, the word auntie, or its...

Quick, Get a Spoon!

We’ve spoken before about “It’ll be better when you’re married,” often used to console someone who just had a small scrape or cut. A Chicago-area listener wrote us to say that in such cases, her mom’s phrase was...

Silly Phrases to Deflect Questions

“Grandpa, what’s that?” A caller says that when she asked her grandfather one too many questions, he’d give her the fanciful answer, “That’s a dingbat off of a wiffem dilly that you grind smoke with.”...