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Turn Left at the Whoopsy-Daisy

Linda from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, gives directions to her remote home by telling people to turn left after the whoopsy-daisy, her term for a sudden dip in the road. There are quite a few colloquial expressions for such abrupt depression or...

Episode 1607

Old College Try

In just seconds, online text generators and chatbots can produce whole paragraphs of sophisticated prose. But what do advances in artificial intelligence mean for writers? What is lost and what’s gained when machine-writing replaces the work...

Episode 1605

Big Bang

A savory Sicilian sausage roll is always a hit for the holidays. This dish goes by a long list of names that are equally delicious to say. Plus, why are those promotional quotes you see on the back of a book called blurbs? The guy who coined the...

Box with Five Handles

Barb in Battle Creek, Michigan, reports that when she was a small child, a neighbor from Georgia said she would bring her a box with five handles for her birthday. Barb was overjoyed until she learned that the phrase is actually a joking euphemism...

Episode 1581

Your Imaginary Boyfriend

We use the term Milky Way for that glowing arc across the sky. But how people picture it varies from culture to culture. In Sweden, that starry band goes by a name that means “Winter Street,” and in Hawaii, a term for the Milky Way...

Episode 1574

Scooter-Pooting

Old. Elderly. Senior. Why are we so uncomfortable when we talk about reaching a certain point in life? An 82-year-old seeks a more positive term to describe how she feels about her age. And: a linguist helps solve a famous kidnapping case, using the...