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One Stone, Two Mangos, and Lots of Correspondence

Some gems in this week’s mailbag: Following up on our conversation with a caller hoping to promote less-violent alternatives to the phrase kill two birds with one stone, a listener who grew up in India wrote in with one from her native...

Have a Wolf by the Ears

Stephanie in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was puzzled when a colleague used the expression like grabbing a wolf by the ears to describe an impossible task. Like the idiom to have a tiger by the tail, it suggests the paralyzing difficulty of having hold of...

Episode 1469

Gone to Seed

This week on A Way with Words: Restaurant jargon, military slang, and modern Greek turns of phrase. • Some restaurants now advertise that they sell “clean” sandwiches. But that doesn’t mean they’re condiment-free or the...

Scobolotch

Scobolotch is a term used in Wisconsin for the mayfly that may derived from a Native American language. Variants include scobblotcher and skoplotch. This short-lived insect goes by many other names, including Green Bay fly and Canadian soldier. This...

A Mother’s Playful Interjections

A Green Bay, Wisconsin, caller is curious about her mother’s playful interjections. If someone said, “Well,” her mother would add, “Well, well. Three holes in the ground.” If someone started a sentence with...