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Traffic Neckdown

Like Bott’s dots and cat’s eyes, the word neckdown comes from the language of traffic flow regulation. A neckdown is an extension of a curb that widens the path for pedestrians and slows moving vehicles. Also called curb extensions, bulb...

Thickly Settled

Marisa in Bellingham, Washington, was puzzled by a traffic sign in Massachusetts that read “Thickly Settled.” As far back as the 1830s, the term thickly settled was used in the Massachusetts legal code to refer to an area with a lot of...

Down Your Alley, Up Your Street

Shawn, who lives in Washington State, is used to hearing the phrase right up your alley to describe something that’s particularly fitting for someone. Then she heard a British vlogger use the phrase right up your street in the same way. Since...

Hilltopping/Hightopping on a Snow Machine

In an earlier episode, we talked about the butterfly mating behavior known as hilltopping, in which male butterflies try to appeal to females by flying as high as possible. A listener in Fairbanks, Alaska, reports that the term hilltopping is used...

Chicken Lights on Trucks

Those strings of amber lights on 18-wheelers are known as chicken lights. But why? Although the term’s origin is unclear, a participant in a discussion forum of the American Historical Truck Society suggests they may have been originally...