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Brollies and Bumbershoots

If you think they refer to umbrellas as bumbershoots in the UK, think again. The word bumbershoot actually originated in the United States! In Britain, it’s prolly a brolly. • Also: snow-grooming language, more than one way to say bagel...

Brobdingnagian and Unabridged

Why do spelling bees use such strange words — often foreign words that almost nobody uses? Like cymotrichous, stromuhr, Laodicean, guerdon, serrefine, and Ursprache? We answered that question in last week’s episode — it’s what happens...

Latvian Vista

Martha has an example of a linguistic false friend: In Latvian, the word vista means “chicken.” This is part of a complete episode.

Etymology of Rubric

The word rubric derives from a Latin word for “red.” Originally, it referred to red letters used as section headings in religious texts and the like. Rubric has since become a term used in modern educational jargon, as in grading rubric...

Norwegian Tann Paste

In an earlier episode, we discussed linguistic false friends, those words in foreign languages that look like familiar English words, but mean something quite different. Martha reads an email response from a listener who learned the hard way that in...