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Episode 1603

If Grandma Had Wheels

While compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, lexicographer James Murray exchanged hundreds of letters a week with authors, advisors, and volunteer researchers. A new collection online lets you eavesdrop on discussions about which words should be...

The Given Name “Bornface”

Jonathan in Fall River, Wisconsin, says when he worked in Zambia he met many people named Bornface, supposedly because they were born face-up. In The African Book of Names, Ashkari Johnson Hodari explains that it’s common throughout sub...

Land of Nod

The term land of Nod, a joking reference to sleep, has its origins in the biblical Nod, to which Cain was exiled after murdering his brother Abel. Jonathan Swift first used it that way in his 1738 work, A Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious...

Something Walked Over Your Grave

A Temecula, California, man recalls that whenever he feels a chill, he says, “I guess someone walked on my grave.” If someone else feels a chill, he’ll say, “Did someone walk on your grave?” Then one day he shivered...