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The Business End

Sean in New York City is curious about the expression the business end, as in the business end of a gun. It’s simply “the end of an object that fulfills its function or purpose,” such as the business end of a shovel, the business...

Episode 1526

Abso-Bloomin-Lutely

The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also, suppose you could invite any two authors, living or dead, to dinner. Who’s on your guest list and...

Episode 1582

Salad Days

A documentary film called My Beautiful Stutter follows youngsters at a summer camp specifically for stutterers. It’s a place for finding acceptance, support, and confidence for navigating the larger world. And:, “The High Priestess of...

Episode 1580

Beefed It

The words tough, through, and dough all end in O-U-G-H. So why don’t they rhyme? A lively new book addresses the many quirks of English by explaining the history of words and phrases. And: have you ever been in a situation where a group makes...

A Blue Million

Ian in Clyde, North Carolina, is puzzled when a colleague uses the term blue million, meaning “a large amount.” Along with words like zillion and gazillion, this expression functions as an indefinite hyperbolic numeral. Sometimes the...