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The Abbreviation for “Number”

A high-schooler in Indianapolis, Indiana, wonders why the word number is abbreviated as no., given that there’s no letter O in the word. The answer lies in the Latin word numero, which is the ablative form of the Latin word for number, numerus. The...

Dead on Foot

C.A. from Indianapolis says that when his mother was exhausted from a long day of work, she’d describe herself as dead on foot. This is part of a complete episode.

Thee, Thou, You, and Ye

Mark in Indianapolis, Indiana, wonders about the history of the second person singular and plural in English. At one time, thee and thou were singular, and you and ye were plural. By the early 17th century, thou and thee as familiar terms of address...

Whoop it Up

Amanda in Indianapolis, Indiana, wonders about her mother’s exhortation whoop it up!, meaning “Get going!” It’s part of a long tradition of making noise to urge someone to hurry. This is part of a complete episode.

Yay vs. Yea

Jill in Indianapolis, Indiana, wonders how to spell the one-syllable cheer that starts with Y. Is it yay or yea? Since the 1930s, yay has been used as a little celebratory word. The word yea is much older and used in formal texts to mean...

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