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I’m Gonna Cut Your Water Off!

A Kentucky listener wonders about the admonition I’m going to cut your water off, which she’s heard from parents disciplining a child, but might also used between adults. The phrase “to cut someone’s water off” has been...

Episode 1550

Queen Bee

An artist asks strangers to write haiku about the pandemic and gets back poetic, poignant glimpses of life under lockdown. Plus, the new book Queenspotting features the colorful language of beekeeping! Bees tell each other about a good source of...

Dry Up and Bust

A North Carolina listener wonders about her mother’s comment in response to complaining or pestering: Go dry up and bust! Since the mid-1800s, the slang phrase Dry up! has meant Stop talking! In the theater world, the term dry up can mean to...

Far Out Origin

A San Diego, California, listener wonders if the expression far out originally had to do with surfing. This expression describing something excellent or otherwise impressive originated in the world of jazz, where far out suggested the idea of...

Hot Dog, Cold Turkey

Why do we call a frankfurter a hot dog? It seems an unsettling 19th-century rumor is to blame. Also, if someone quits something abruptly, why do we say they quit cold turkey? This term’s roots may lie in the history of boxing. Plus, a...