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Sure Fire Soul Ensemble

Some of the music you hear on this show is the work of Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, a San Diego-based Afro-funk and soul-jazz band. Their keyboard player is Tim Felten, who, as it happens, is also the editor and engineer for A Way with Words. He selects...

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...

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...

Episode 1526

Abso-Bloomin-Lutely

The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also, suppose you could invite any two authors, living or dead, to dinner. Who’s on your guest list and...

Elephants Gerald

Sue from Rancho Palos Verdes, California, says her daughter Pip used to talk about how much she loved the jazz singer Elephants Gerald. This is part of a complete episode.

Skedaddle

The months of September, October, November, and December take their names from Latin words meaning “seven,” “eight,” “nine,” and “ten.” So why don’t their names correspond to where they fall in...