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Loyalty and Monogamy

Kristin, a college professor in Dubuque, Iowa, teaches a class in the U.S. history of sexuality. She’s intrigued by the way her students increasingly use the word loyalty as a synonym for monogamy. Perhaps the word monogamy sounds more...

Uropygium

The scientific name for that part of a fowl otherwise known as the pope’s nose or the bishop’s nose is uropygium. The Greek root of this word, pyge, meaning “rump,” is also found in the English adjectives callipygian, which...

Are There Such Things as Perfect Synonyms?

Can words ever be perfect synonyms? No. Words can have approximate synonyms, but there are always shades of implicit and explicit meaning. Consider, for example, the terms butt and derrière. Although both refer to the same part of the anatomy, they...

Origins of “Camp” and “Campy”

The noun camp and the adjective campy refer to movies, theater, or a style or an exaggerated manner of creative or personal expression that combines high and low elements of culture. These terms were first used in the underground gay community, and...

Paper Stretchers

A listener in St. Cloud, Minnesota, reports that when she first started in the printing business, new employees would be hazed with the prank assignment of finding a “paper stretcher” to make a web — the big sheet of paper that...

Grant Barrett

Gone Pecan

How did the word gay go from meaning lighthearted to homosexual? Also, why are elementary schools sometimes called grammar schools? Plus, imeldific, gone pecan, random Scrabble words, and the difference between borrow and lend. And the etiquette of...