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The Soul’s Enameling Through Poetry

In White Oleander (Bookshop|Amazon), novelist Janet Fitch touts the value of memorizing poetry with these memorable lines: Always learn poems by heart. They have to become the marrow in your bones. Like fluoride in the water, they’ll make your soul...

Episode 1535

Beside Myself

The new Downton Abbey movie is a luscious treat for fans of the public-television period piece, but how accurate is the script when it comes to the vocabulary of the early 20th century? It may be jarring to hear the word swag, but it was already at...

Episode 1591

Pushing the Envelope

Sure, there’s winter, spring, summer, and fall. But the seasons in between have even more poetic names. In Alaska, greenup describes a sudden, dramatic burst of green after a long, dark winter. And there are many, many terms for a cold snap...

Dressing the Bed Means Making the Bed

Janet calls from Aiken, South Carolina, to say that her father used to ask Have you dressed your bed? meaning “Have you made your bed?” The word dress likely derives from Latin dirigere, meaning “to straighten” or “to...

Any More Would be a Flippity Flop

My sufficiency has been suffonsified is just one version of a playfully lofty way to say “I’ve had enough to eat.” Janet from San Antonio, Texas, emailed to say her Canadian mother’s version was My sufficiency has been...

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