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Episode 1513

Howling Fantods

Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing drug-laced dollar bills, or that AM radio stations only broadcast in the morning? • A moving new...

Episode 1612

Fair Dinkum

A magnificent new book celebrates the richness and diversity of 450 years of written and spoken English in what is now the United States. It’s called The People’s Tongue, and it’s a sumptuous collection of essays, letters, poems...

Tribble Meaning Pompom

Polly, a library worker in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, wonders about the correct term for the fuzzy puffball atop a warm hat. Is it a tribble or a pompom? The word tribble first appeared in the classic Star Trek episode “The...

Pets Go Sploot

James in San Diego, California, wonders about the origin of the word sploot, which refers to the way cute cuddly animals, such as corgis, lie on their bellies with their back legs splayed out. Other terms for this include frog legs, frog dog, furry...

Gee and Haw

A dogsledder in Vermont wonders why he and his fellow mushers direct their furry packs by shouting gee for “right” and haw for “left.” This is part of a complete episode.