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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...

Polar Words

A conversation with a leading expert on polar bears has Martha thinking about several bear-related words, including the term arctic and the feminine name Ursula. This is part of a complete episode.


The medical term tragomaschalia means “smelly armpit sweat,” and derives from Greek words that mean “goat armpit.” This is part of a complete episode.

The Cat’s Pajamas

The cat’s pajamas, denoting something excellent, arose in the 1920’s along with many similarly improbable phrases involving animals and their anatomy or possessions, including the gnat’s elbow, the eel’s ankles, and the...

Martha’s Marmot Apology

After inadvertently maligning marmots in an earlier discussion of the term “whistle pig,” Martha makes a formal apology to any marmots that might be listening. This is part of a complete episode.

Whistle Pig Critter

Whistle pig, woodchuck, and groundhog are all terms for a type of large squirrel, or marmot, found in the United States. The name whistle pig, common in Appalachia, is a jocular reference to the sound they make. This is part of a complete episode.