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Ort Buckets

Our conversation about orts, that term well-known to cruciverbalists for “random bits of leftover food,” prompts listeners to share memories of ort buckets in the dining hall at summer camps, and instructions to keep them as free as...

Etymology of Mince

What do we mean by the expression “not to mince words”? The New York Times’ Paul Krugman often uses this idiom meaning “to be straightforward and blunt.” The verb mince means “to make small,” and is a...

“Tang” Menu Mystery Solved

In a previous episode, we came upon a word mystery in a 1947 menu from Jackson, Mississippi, that mentions tang. The mystery has been solved! It wasn’t the drink, and it wasn’t the fish; it was Cudahy Tang, one of over a hundred knockoff...

Bacon-Flavored Language

It’s another A Way with Words newsletter! This past weekend’s episode was a rebroadcast, which we named “Pickles and Ice Cream.” English speakers use those two when they want to compare two things that don’t go well...