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Episode 1536

The Black Dog

Books were rare treasures in the Middle Ages, painstakingly copied out by hand. So how to protect them from theft? Scribes sometimes added a curse to the first page of those books that was supposed to keep thieves away — and some were as vicious as...

It Doesn’t Exist, a Greek Phrase

In modern Greek, if you want to say something is “fantastic,” “out of this world,” or otherwise “terrific,” you can say den iparchei!, which literally means “It doesn’t exist!” This is part of a...

Butter My Biscuits

Well, look what the cat dragged in! It’s another newsletter from A Way with Words. Given how often we talk about food words, we should write a cookbook. For example, this past weekend’s show was a leftover — a rebroadcast, a rerun, a re...

Cannibal Sandwich, Anyone?

Ready for some crazy crossword clues? The hosts discuss some clever ones, like “hula hoop?” (3 letters). Also, is the correct term jury-rigged or jerry-rigged? Why are Marines called gyrenes? When someone points out the obvious, do you...

Antimetabole

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This and other phrases of wisdom are known as antimetabole, from the Greek for “turning about in the opposite direction.” Certain forms of these statements also go by the name...

Favorite Oxymorons

O heavy lightness! Serious vanity! Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms! A listener senses something awfully good about oxymorons, from the Greek for “pointedly foolish.” Grant shares this favorite example from Shakespeare’s Romeo...