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Episode 1572

By a Long Shot

Imagine telling someone how to get to your home, but without using the name of your street, or any other street within ten miles. Could you do it? We take street names for granted, but these words are useful for far more, like applying for a job or...

Video Game Jargon “Proc”

Brian from Washington, D.C., wonders about the term proc. It’s used by video-game enthusiasts to refer to an event triggered by particular circumstances or actions. Proc can also be used as a verb, and apparently derives from spec_proc, a...

Episode 1532

Off the Turnip Truck

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when people disagreed over the best word to use when answering the phone. Alexander Graham Bell suggested answering with ahoy! but Thomas Edison was partial to hello! A fascinating new book about...

Fair Game Origins

The term fair game, meaning someone or something that’s a legitimate target for criticism derives from old laws governing the hunting of wildlife. This is part of a complete episode.

Episode 1508

Take Tea for the Fever

Silence comes in many forms. Writer Paul Goodman says there is, for example, the noisy silence of “resentment and self-recrimination,” and the helpful, participatory silence of actively listening to someone speak. • The strange story...