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Forked End Down

A listener in Springfield, Illinois, recalls that an elderly relative would respond to the question “How are you?” with the answer “Forked end down.” By that, he meant, “I’m fine.” If you’ve ever drawn...

A Hole to China (episode # 1368)

Have a question about objective pronouns? Whom ya gonna call? Wait–is that right? Or would it be “who ya gonna call”? “Whom” may be technically correct, but insisting on it can get you called an elitist. It’s...

Cute as a Button

Did you ever wonder why we capitalize the pronoun “I,” but not any other pronoun? Also, the romantic story behind the term halcyon days, the origin of the phrase “like white on rice,” and the linguistic scuttlebutt on the...

How to Address the President

How should news organizations refer to elected officials, past and present? There’s not much consensus among print and broadcast companies, but most organizations have their own set of rules. For example, NPR’s policy is to refer to the...

Wet Behind the Ears

Why do we say that someone is inexperienced is “wet behind the ears”? The hosts tackle that question, and discuss whether Barack Obama misspoke during the 2008 presidential campaign when he used a similar expression, green behind the...

Like a Duck on a June Bug

Welcome to another newsletter from "A Way with Words"! In our latest episode, we talked about bird names, "like a duck on a June bug," overuse of the word "like," the expression of disbelief "Good night, nurse...