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Episode 1618

Spinning Cookies

A book of photographs and essays by famous writers celebrates libraries — and the librarians who changed their lives. Plus cutting doughnuts, spinning cookies, and pulling brodies: There are lots of ways to talk about spinning a car in circles on...

Toboggan: Sled, Hat, and Slide

Kara in Charlotte, North Carolina, was shopping in New Brunswick, Canada, hoping to find a warm hat. She asked for a toboggan, but the store clerk was incredulous. Depending on where you’re from toboggan can mean either “a long, knitted...

Episode 1614

Cats and Dogs

It’s cats and dogs, and a few other critters, too. Animals prowl around inside several English words, including sleuth, which was originally sleuth-hound, a synonym for bloodhound. Plus, the language we use with our pets and the ways they...

Get the Goody Out

Amelia in Arlington, Virginia, was surprised to hear her wife, who is from Iowa, use the phrase getting the goody out to describe someone sporting a well-worn pair of sweatpants, indicating that they were continuing to get the most out of that...

Pepper Alley

A kindergartener misunderstands the name of an event at his school, insisting to his mother that he attended a pepper alley, not a pep rally. Let’s hope that’s the case, because pepper alley is actually 19th-century boxing slang for...