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Streely

A listener in Cambridge, Wisconsin, says her mother, who is of Irish descent, used to tell her children to wash their hair so it wouldn’t be streely. This word derives from Irish for “unkempt,” and perhaps ultimately from a Gaelic...

Nebby

The phrase to be nebby is heard particularly in Western Pennsylvania, and means to be “picky” or “gossipy.” Originally, it meant “nosy” or “snooping.” Nebby is a vestige of Scots-Irish, where the word...

Positive Anymore

An Omaha, Nebraska man wonders about starting a sentence with the word anymore, meaning “nowadays.” Linguists refer to this usage as positive anymore, which is common in much of the Midwest and stems from Scots-Irish syntax. This is part...

Scots-Irish “Whenever”

Some speakers of American English use the word whenever to refer to a single event, as in “whenever Abraham Lincoln died.” This locution is a vestige of Scots-Irish speech. This is part of a complete episode.