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Episode 1603

If Grandma Had Wheels

While compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, lexicographer James Murray exchanged hundreds of letters a week with authors, advisors, and volunteer researchers. A new collection online lets you eavesdrop on discussions about which words should be...

I Dub Thee “Weak Coffee”

Listeners are sharing their favorite terms for coffee that’s weak, including warm wet, branch water, pond water, scared water, and in the immortal words of Ani DiFranco, just water dressed in brown. One listener has a friend in North Dakota...

Episode 1586

Mittens in Moonlight

Need a slang term that can replace just about any noun? Try chumpie. If you’re from Philadelphia, you may already know this handy placeholder word. And there’s Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, and … The Bronx — why do we add...

Episode 1602

Touch Grass

High school students in Alabama share some favorite slang terms. If someone tells you to touch grass, they’re telling you to get a reality check — but the last thing you’d actually want to touch is dog water! Also, the history of the...

Episode 1600

Go Bananas

A caller wonders if she’s being hypersensitive about the way her boss addresses her in emails. Can the use of an employee’s first name ever reflect a power differential? And: a community choir director wants a term for “the act of...

Etui and Tweezers

With its unusual combination of letters, the word etui is a favorite of crossword-puzzle constructors. Etui means “a small case” and often refers to containers for carrying small instruments such as sewing needles and pins. This word was...