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Keep Your Powder Dry

Shelby calls from Rockville, Indiana, to ask about the origin of the phrase keep your powder dry. Many people surmise it derives from words uttered by Oliver Cromwell, but there’s no recorded evidence of this. The phrase first pops up in the...

Sunny-Side Up

Baseball has a language all its own: On the diamond, a snow cone isn’t what you think it is, and three blind mice has nothing to do with nursery rhymes. And how do you describe someone who works at home while employed by a company in another...

Pop Stand

When it comes to learning new things, what’s on your bucket list? A retired book editor decided to try to learn Latin, and ended up learning a lot about herself. There’s a word for someone who learns something late in life. And when it...

Spagglers and Mary Washington

A listener in Abilene, Texas, says that his Maryland relatives always referred to asparagus as spagglers, so he was shocked when he got to college and realized no one else knew what he was talking about. This vegetable goes by lots of other names...

A Dancer Who Walks for a Living

You dream of writing the great American novel, but to make ends meet, you spend your days writing boring corporate reports. There’s a difference between writing for love and writing for a living — or is there? Does a heyday have anything to do...