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What Do You Call Your Junk Drawer?

Nell in Madison, Wisconsin, says her family always had a drawer where they kept birthday candles, odd keys, matches, pencils, random batteries. They called it the mystery drawer. Some people call it a junk drawer or the work drawer. The term mystery...

Episode 1544

Hog on Ice

One secret to writing well is … there is no secret! There’s no substitute for simply sitting down day after day to practice the craft and learn from your mistakes. Plus, childhood mixups around word definitions can lead to some funny stories...

Couch, Sofa, Davenport, and Chesterfield

Vince in Norristown, Pennsylvania, is pondering whether the terms couch, sofa, and davenport are all regional terms for the same piece of heavy furniture. The short answer is that throughout the United States, the term couch is the most common...

Bedroom Suit vs. Suite

Beth in Springhill, Tennessee, wonders which is correct to denote a particular grouping of furniture: bedroom suit or bedroom suite? Both are correct, although their use varies from region to region. If you don’t want to invite controversy...

Wearing a Commode on Your Head

During the reign of France’s Louis XIV, you could wear a commode on your head. Commode referred to a wire frame worn on the head to support an elaborate headdress. This is part of a complete episode.

Sick Abed on Two Chairs

“Sick abed on two chairs” is an idiom that can describe being sick but working anyway. It can also refer to the idea of being sick and going between two chairs: the dinner table chair, and the porcelain chair in the bathroom. This is...