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Episode 1586

Mittens in Moonlight

Need a slang term that can replace just about any noun? Try chumpie. If you’re from Philadelphia, you may already know this handy placeholder word. And there’s Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, and … The Bronx — why do we add...

Waffle Cornflake And Other Family Words

A listener emails to say that her nonagenarian mother adopted a special project during the pandemic. She compiled a lexicon of words and phrases used by their family when the kids were growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. The resulting 33-page...

Episode 1553

Play It by Ear

How does social context shape our perception of language? When hiking the Appalachian Trail, a young woman from Wyoming found that fellow hikers assumed she was from another country, not only because of how she spoke, but also how she looked...

Internet Meme Lexicon

Ben Zimmer published a brilliant collection of internet memes from the past twenty years in a the journal American Speech. Memes like facepalming and the O, rly? owl have allowed us to communicate otherwise unwritable sentiments via the internet...

scrotology

scrotology  n.— «He takes a dim view of the film’s “scatology and scrotology”-based humor, saying that it’s not that Apatow’s characters “have to talk dirty; it’s their only lexicon.”» —“Peter Bart: Variety’s...