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Episode 1587

Herd of Turtles

Some college students are using the word loyalty as a synonym for monogamy. Are the meanings of these words now shifting? Plus, a biologist discovers a new species of bat, then names it after a poet he admires. Also, warm memories of how a childhood...

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 1543

Goody Two-Shoes

She sells seashells by the seashore. Who is the she in this tongue twister? Some claim it’s the young Mary Anning, who went on to become a famous 19th-century British paleontologist. Dubious perhaps, but the story of her rise from seaside...

Episode 1542

Baby Blues

A hundred years ago, suffragists lobbied to win women the right to vote. Linguistically speaking, though, suffrage isn’t about “suffering.” It’s from a Latin word that involves voting. Plus: military cadences often include...

Episode 1516

Train of Thought

Chances are you recognize the expressions Judgment Day and root of all evil as phrases from the Bible. There are many others, such as the powers that be and bottomless pit, which both first appeared in scripture. • There’s a term for when the...

Bun in the Oven

How many different ways are there to say you have a baby on the way? You can say you’re pregnant, great with child, clucky, awkward, eating for two, lumpy, or swallowed a pumpkin seed? • The story behind the word...