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Episode 1566

No Cap, No Lie

We take our voices for granted, but it’s truly miraculous that we communicate complex thoughts simply by moving our mouths while exhaling. A fascinating new book reveals the science, history, and linguistics involved in human speech. And...

Origin of the Word “Paraphernalia”

Rachel from Ashland, Virginia, wonders about the origin of paraphernalia, or “items belonging to a particular person or used for a particular activity.” In ancient Greece, the pherna was a bride’s dowry, and the parapherna was her...

Fair Game Origins

The term fair game, meaning someone or something that’s a legitimate target for criticism derives from old laws governing the hunting of wildlife. This is part of a complete episode.

Legal Doublets

Part and parcel, indicating an integral component, is one of many legal doublets in English consisting of two words that mean essentially the same thing. Others include law and order, cease and desist, will and testament, sole and exclusive. There...

Hue and Cry

Today, the phrase hue and cry means a clamor or uproar, but in old English law, hue and cry referred to the public outcry during the pursuit of a criminal suspect. Anyone who heard this shouting was legally obligated to join in the chase. This is...

Rush the Growler

We say rush the growler to mean “go fetch the booze” because, back in the 1880s, people got around the new liquor laws by sending kids scurrying down to the bar with an empty growler in hand to fill up. Variations of this include chase...