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Episode 1506

Oh, For Cute!

A stereotype is a preconceived notion about a person or group. Originally, though, the word stereotype referred to a printing device used to produce lots of identical copies. • The link between tiny mythical creatures called trolls and modern-day...

Knight Chevalier

A listener in Richardson, Texas, notes that before her mother married, her middle name was Knight and her last name was Chevallier. For those who know the French word for “knight,” chevalier, this made for some occasional chuckles. This...

Whippersnapper

A listener in Fairbanks, Alaska, says her husband has long referred to her as a whippersnapper, insisting it’s a playful term of endearment. Whippersnapper goes back to the 17th century, when boys who didn’t own horses would strut around...

Episode 1499

Truth and Beauty

Malamute, kayak, and parka are just some of the words that have found their way into English from the language of indigenous people in northern climes. • In the 1970s, some scientists argued that two quarks should be called truth and beauty. • The...

Vouching for Your Good Name

If you vouch for something, you guarantee that what you’re saying is true. In the early 14th century, vouch was a transitive verb that meant “to summon into court to prove a title.” Vouch was adapted into English from an Old French...