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Episode 1466

Charismatic Megafauna

Choosing language that helps resolve interpersonal conflict. Sometimes a question is really just a veiled form of criticism and understanding the difference between “ask culture” and “guess culture” can help you know how to...

Episode 1465

Knuckle Down

A wingnut is a handy, stabilizing piece of hardware. So why is it a pejorative term for those of a certain political persuasion? Also, is there something wrong with the phrase committed suicide? Some say that the word commit is a painful reminder...

Episode 1441

Copacetic

Brand names, children’s games, and the etiquette of phone conversations. Those clever plastic PEZ dispensers come in all shapes and sizes—but where did the word PEZ come from? The popular candy’s name is the product of wordplay involving...

Proof in the Pudding

Have you ever offered to foster a dog or cat, but wound up adopting instead? There’s an alliterative term for that. And when you’re on the job, do niceties like “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir” make you sound too...

Episode 1440

Mustard On It

When does a word’s past make it too sensitive to use in the present? In contra dancing, there’s a particular move that dancers traditionally call a gypsy. But there’s a growing recognition that many people find the term gypsy...

Hot Mess

Sneaky contract lingo, advice for writing well, and preserving a dying language. Say you’re scrolling through an online transaction where you’re asked to read the “Terms and Conditions.” Do you actually read them or just check the...