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Flesh Fly vs. Horsefly

Rhonda in San Diego, California, and her husband have a dispute over the proper nomenclature for flies that occasionally wing their way into their home. He wants to call a large fly a horsefly, but she has a biology and animal-husbandry background...

Origins of Trouser Fly

Gabrielle in Beloit, Michigan, is puzzled about why we refer to the zipper on a pair of pants as a fly. The term originally referred not to the zipper itself, but the flap that goes over it, like the fly that protects the entrance to a tent. This is...

Origin of “Flea Market”

A flea market is a type of bazaar, usually outdoors, where vendors of secondhand and discount goods sell their wares. But why flea market? The term probably reflects the influence of two linguistic strains: In 18th-century New York City, the Fly...

Fly off the Handle

A listener in Quebec, Canada, wonders about the origin of to fly off the handle, meaning “to lose control.” It refers to the image of the head of an axe becoming loose and flying through the air. This is part of a complete episode.

Names for the Mayfly

The mayfly, that insect whose time is up in a mere 24 hours or so, goes by many other names, including bay fly, cisco fly, drake fly, dun, eel fly, fish fly, flying clipper, green fly, July fly, June bug, June fly, and more. This is part of a...