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Yelling Geronimo

A man in Surprise, Arizona, wonders why people jumping into a pool sometimes yell “Geronimo!” The history of this exclamation goes back to an eponymous 1939 movie about the famed Apache warrior Geronimo. The film was popular on U.S...

Butterflies in Your Stomach

If you’re not using a dictionary to look up puzzling words as you read them, you’re missing out on a whole other level of enjoyment. • When you’re cleaning house, why not clean like there’s literally no tomorrow? The term...

Frozen Rope

Where would you find a sports commentator talking about high cheese and ducks on a pond? Here’s a hint: both terms are part of what makes America’s pastime so colorful. • A government official in New Zealand proposes a new, more...

OK vs. okay

A San Antonio, Texas, middle-schooler has observed that when she and her friends are texting, they use different spellings to indicate agreement. Her friend types OK, but the caller prefers okay. Either is correct. For an engaging, thorough history...

Gone to Seed

This week on A Way with Words: Restaurant jargon, military slang, and modern Greek turns of phrase. • Some restaurants now advertise that they sell “clean” sandwiches. But that doesn’t mean they’re condiment-free or the...

Here, Here and There, There

A listener from Dallas, Texas, wonders why we say “here, here” to cheer someone on, and “there, there” to calm someone down. Actually, the phrase is “hear, hear,” and it’s imperative, as in, listen to this...

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