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Episode 1532

Off the Turnip Truck

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when people disagreed over the best word to use when answering the phone. Alexander Graham Bell suggested answering with ahoy! but Thomas Edison was partial to hello! A fascinating new book about...

Episode 1605

Big Bang

A savory Sicilian sausage roll is always a hit for the holidays. This dish goes by a long list of names that are equally delicious to say. Plus, why are those promotional quotes you see on the back of a book called blurbs? The guy who coined the...

How Come “How Come?”?

How come the expression how come came to be used as an interrogative? This Americanism arose in the mid-1800s, and is still widely used in informal contexts. This is part of a complete episode.

Episode 1579

Forty-Eleven Zillion

When there’s no evening meal planned at home, what do you call that scramble to cobble together your own dinner? Some people apply acronyms like YOYO — “you’re on your own” — or CORN, for “Clean Out your Refrigerator...

“Scat Cat!” Sneeze Response

Dexter in Clintonville, Alabama, reports that his Minnesota-born wife was baffled after she sneezed and he responded with Scat cat! Across the American South, this phrase and variations of it serve as an informal response when someone sneezes. Other...

Informal Fridge Foraging

Roz Chast, a cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine, asked her followers on Instagram for their terms for informal fridge-foraging, and says she received more than 1700 responses, including California plate, spa plate, having weirds, eek, mustard...