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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 1576

Sour Pickle

You know that Yogi Berra quote about how Nobody ever comes here; it’s too crowded? Actually, the first person to use this was actress Suzanne Ridgeway, who appeared in several movies with The Three Stooges. A new book shows that many well...

Why “The” Bronx?

Why does the name of the Manhattan borough called The Bronx include the word The while the other boroughs of New York City lack a definite article? The 17th-century Dutch settler Jonas Bronck bequeathed his name to a local body of water, which came...

Poke Sack

Tim from Manhattan Beach, California, says his grandmother used to carry a brown paper bag and call it her poke sack. The word poke, in this case, means bag, making poke sack a pleonasm, which is an expression using more words than necessary to...

Geographic Terminology

Why is there an upstate New York but not an upstate New Jersey, or an Oklahoma panhandle but not a Missouri panhandle? Both geographic phenomena exist in those places, but the terminology varies. This is part of a complete episode.

back up the truck

back up the truck  v. phr.— «The safety of these securities caused financial firms to load upon on them (“back up the truck,” in Wall Street parlance). They were considered so safe that financial firms used borrowed funds to buy more, and...