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Episode 1572

By a Long Shot

Imagine telling someone how to get to your home, but without using the name of your street, or any other street within ten miles. Could you do it? We take street names for granted, but these words are useful for far more, like applying for a job or...

Episode 1562

What the Blazes?

What kind of book do people ask for most often in prison? Romance novels? No. The Bible? No. The most requested books by far are … dictionaries! A number of volunteer organizations gather and distribute used dictionaries to help inmates with...

Long Shot vs. Long Chalk

Peter from Camden, New Jersey, wonders about the phrases not by a long chalk and not by a long shot. The former is used in the United Kingdom, while the latter is commonly used in the United States. Both suggest the idea of missing a mark by a...

Where in the Blazes am I?

When James from Waco, Texas, was lost while hiking, he wondered Where in the blazes am I?, then wondered about the origin of that expression. It doesn’t derive from blaze meaning “to cut into a tree to mark a trail.” That term...

Episode 1557

Sock it to Me

In the 15th century, the word respair meant “to have hope again.” Although this word fell out of use, it’s among dozens collected in a new book of soothing vocabulary for troubled times. Plus, baseball slang: If a batter...