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Beefed It (episode #1580)

The words tough, through, and dough all end in O-U-G-H. So why don’t they rhyme? A lively new book addresses the many quirks of English by explaining the history of words and phrases. And: have you ever been in a situation where a group makes...

Counting Out Words for Approximate Seconds

Jim in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, says that during childhood games of touch football, he and his friends would count out the required three seconds before rushing as Mississippi one, Mississippi two, Mississippi three. Other ways of counting...

Mrs. Astor’s Horse (episode #1530)

“What has a head like a cat, feet like a cat, a tail like a cat, but isn’t a cat?” Answer: a kitten! A 1948 children’s joke book has lots of these to share with kids. Plus: an easy explanation for the difference between...

Storks Roosting in Our Language

In certain ancient traditions, storks were associated with kindness and family devotion. The Hebrew word for this leggy bird is chasidah, meaning “the kindly one,” from chesed, or “loving kindness.” Storks were also highly...

Piping Hot (episode #1503)

The game of baseball has alway inspired colorful commentary. Sometimes that means using familiar words in unfamiliar ways. The word stuff, for example, can refer to a pitcher’s repertoire, to the spin on a ball, or what happens to the ball...

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