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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...

Episode 1597

I Don’t Have the Spoons

Whether it’s a Rubik’s cube or a round of Wordle, why do so many of us find puzzles irresistible? A new book celebrates the allure and psychological benefits of brain teasers. Plus, powerful language for talking about the chronic...

Have to Eat a Peck of Dirt

Andrew from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, recalls a phrase his grandmother used: You’ve got to eat a peck of dirt before you die. A peck is a unit of dry measure equal to a quarter of a bushel. Peck is also a term of approximate measure, as in to...

Episode 1571

When Pigs Fly

Don’t move my cheese! It’s a phrase middle managers use to talk about adapting to change in the workplace. Plus, the origin story of the name William, and why it’s Guillermo in Spanish. And a five-year-old poses a question that...

Episode 1592

You Talk Like a Sausage  

Do you refer to your dog or cat as “somebody”? As in: When you love somebody that much, you don’t mind if they slobber. In other words, is your pet a somebody or a something? Also, for centuries, there was little consistency in the...

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...