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Guitars as Axes and Woodshedding

Johanna in Munising, Michigan, has a funny story about a childhood misunderstanding. Guitarists sometimes refer to their instrument as an ax. But at least as early as the 1940s, the slang term ax referred to other instruments, including trombones...

A Murphy, a Melvin, and a Wedgie

When it comes to joining Facebook affinity groups, grammar lovers have lots of choices. Take, for example, the group whose motto is “Punctuation saves lives.” It’s called “Let’s Eat Grandma!” or “Let’s...

Too Much Sugar

“Too much sugar for a dime” can mean either “too good to be true,” or “more trouble than it’s worth.” Merle Travis and Judy Hayden sing about it. This is part of a complete episode.

Serial Commas

Martha argues in favor of the serial comma, citing a recent newspaper caption: “The documentary was filmed over three years. Among those interviewed were his ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.” How’s that again? This...

Names Ending in “X”

The mother of a boy named Hendrix wonders how to punctuate the possessive of his name. Should she add an apostrophe or apostrophe with an “s”? Hendrix’ or Hendrix’s? This is part of a complete episode.

slash cash

slash cash  n.— «If your employer has a policy against moonlighting—or one of your side jobs creates a conflict of interest—you have what I call a “slash clash,” and I suggest you get started on finding a more compatible combination...