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Episode 1602

Touch Grass

High school students in Alabama share some favorite slang terms. If someone tells you to touch grass, they’re telling you to get a reality check — but the last thing you’d actually want to touch is dog water! Also, the history of the...

If I Tell You A Hen Dips Snuff

We were invited by Huntsville, Alabama, public radio station WLRH to do a live appearance at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. During the Q&A, a listener shared a version of the phrase If I tell you a hen dips snuff, you can look under its...

Episode 1552

Moon Palace

What happens in a classroom of refugee and immigrant youngsters learning English? Their fresh approach to language can result in remarkable poetry — some of which is collected in the anthology England: Poems from a School. Also, new language among...

B-Flat Meaning Ordinary

Rachel from Harrogate, Tennessee, says when she was growing up in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, she and her fellow musicians used the term B-flat as slang for “ordinary” or “average.” In the 1938 publication New York Panorama...

Episode 1538

Little Shavers

The word hipster might seem recent, but it actually originated in the 1930s when it referred to jazz aficionados who were in the know about the best nightclubs and cool music. Speaking of music, a professional musician reports that it’s...

A 1930s Hipster

Jerry in Lutherville, Maryland, was reading a 2018 biography of Nelson Algren, author of The Man with the Golden Arm, that mentions a group in the 1930s that were described as hipsters or hepsters. In the 1930s, the word hipster applied to a jazz...