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Boustrophedon

Boustrophedonic writing goes from right to left, then left to right, then right to left again. This term derives from Greek word bous, meaning “ox,” also found in bucolic and bulimia (literally, ox hunger) and strophe, meaning turn, like...

Dead Nuts

An Escanoba, Michigan, construction worker who specializes in plumbing and pipefitting says that when he and his co-workers finish a task just so, they approvingly call it dead nuts. But he wonders if there’s anything obscene about that...

My Eye, Mon Oeil

In many cultures, tugging at one’s lower eyelid is an expression of skepticism, as if to indicate that the person is being watchful and alert and won’t be taken in. In the United States, the gesture may be accompanied by a phrase like...

Ploggers

There’s a word for those noble souls who’re picking up litter while they jog. They’re ploggers. The neologisms plogger and plogging are a combination of the English word jogging and Swedish plocka upp, which means pick up. This is...

Man Lettuce

What’s man lettuce? A Tallahassee, Florida, listener uses that term for beard. If you have a beard you might be said said to be barbigerous. If you get it trimmed, you’ve had a pogonotomy.   This is part of a complete episode.

A Shoo-in

This week it’s butterflies, belly flowers, plot bunnies, foxes, and cuckoos. Also, writing advice from Mark Twain and a wonderful bit of prose from Sara Pennypacker’s book Pax. And are there word origins? Well, does a duck swim? We’ll...

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