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Beefed It (episode #1580)

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...

When Pigs Fly and Las Vacas Vuelen

In English, if we want to say that something will never occur, we say it’ll happen when pigs fly or when hell freezes over. In Spanish, you can express this idea by saying it will happen “when cows fly,” or el día que las vacas...

Adynaton Origin and Meaning

The word adynaton, which refers to a jocular phrase that emphasizes the idea of impossibility, was adopted into English from Greek, where adynaton means “impossible,” a combination of a- meaning “not” and dynatos, which means...

Nicket, the Back of the Knee

Emily in San Diego, California, reports her father’s side of the family has a word for the back of the knee: nicket. German speakers refer to that part of the body as the Kniekehle, from German words meaning “knee” and...

Symmachy

Symmachy is a rare word that means “an alliance to fight together against something,” the sym- coming from a Greek word that means “together” and the -machy from a Greek word that means “fight.” Similarly, a...

The Asthenosphere

The asthenosphere, as described in Brian Kevin’s Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks guide (Bookshop|Amazon) is a gurgling sea of plasticized rock beneath the earth’s rocky crust. Asthenosphere derives from Greek asthenes...

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