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News from Planet Word

Hi, all -- In this week's episode of "A Way with Words": If you want to make a room cooler, do you "turn up" the air conditioning? Or do you "turn it down"? Also, "croaker" meaning a...

Genealogy Chart

What’s the difference between a second cousin and a cousin once removed? Here’s a helpful chart from Genealogy.com. This is part of a complete episode.

A Walk Spoiled But Our Lie is Good

If English isn’t your first language, there are lots of ways to learn it, such as memorizing Barack Obama’s speech to the 2004 Democratic Convention. Martha and Grant talk about some of the unusual ways foreigners are learning to speak...

Chicken Scratches and Creaky Voice

Does your handwriting look like chicken scratches, calligraphy, or maybe something in between? Martha and Grant discuss the state of penmanship, the phenomenon linguists call creaky voice, euphemisms for going to the bathroom, and the New England...

Days of Wine Flights and Mullets

Barack Obama wants to put people to work building roads and bridges. But how about a federal jobs program for out-of-work writers? Also: why do we call it a flight of wine? How did the haircut called a mullet get its name?

Will The Rain Hurt The Rhubarb?

Obamamania, Obamabot, Obamathon, Obamamentum— the list of variations on the name “Obama” goes on and on. Is there an English word that means “the in-laws of your son or daughter”? And what does it mean when someone...

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