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Episode 1575

Not My Circus

Throwing cheese and shaky cheese are two very different things. In baseball, hard cheese refers to a powerful fastball, and probably comes from a similar-sounding word in Farsi, Urdu, and Hindi. Shaky cheese, on the other hand, is the grated...

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...

Episode 1592

You Talk Like a Sausage  

Do you refer to your dog or cat as “somebody”? As in: When you love somebody that much, you don’t mind if they slobber. In other words, is your pet a somebody or a something? Also, for centuries, there was little consistency in the...

Episode 1591

Pushing the Envelope

Sure, there’s winter, spring, summer, and fall. But the seasons in between have even more poetic names. In Alaska, greenup describes a sudden, dramatic burst of green after a long, dark winter. And there are many, many terms for a cold snap...

Episode 1562

What the Blazes?

What kind of book do people ask for most often in prison? Romance novels? No. The Bible? No. The most requested books by far are … dictionaries! A number of volunteer organizations gather and distribute used dictionaries to help inmates with...