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Lick and Run in Place Names

Orion in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in rural West Virginia on something called Lick Run Road, not far from Mud Lick Road, Turkey Lick Road, and Sanders Run Road. Why do the words lick and run appear in these types of place names? James Hall...

Episode 1515

Colonial English

The anatomy of effective prose, and the poetry of anatomy. Ever wonder what it’d be like to audit a class taught by a famous writer? A graduate student’s essay offers a taste of a semester studying with author Annie Dillard. Also, what...

Lick the Cat Over

Debra in Gates, North Carolina, says that her husband tries to do things right the first time because, as he puts it, he doesn’t like licking the cat over. To have to lick the cat over is to have to repeat a laborious process for a second time...

Frozen Rope

Where would you find a sports commentator talking about high cheese and ducks on a pond? Here’s a hint: both terms are part of what makes America’s pastime so colorful. • A government official in New Zealand proposes a new, more...

Kid Cheater

Kid cheater and child cheater are synonyms for spatula, because when you’re baking a cake, a spatula is so efficient for removing the remnants of a sweet mixture from a bowl that there’s little left for a kid to lick off. This is part of...

Hot Mess

Sneaky contract lingo, advice for writing well, and preserving a dying language. Say you’re scrolling through an online transaction where you’re asked to read the “Terms and Conditions.” Do you actually read them or just check the...