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Earwigs

What is an earwig? Those skinny brown insects with pinchers coming out their backsides have a reputation in folklore for crawling through people’s ears and laying eggs in their skull. But really, earwigs are just simple insects that take their...

News from Planet Word

Hi, all -- In this week's episode of "A Way with Words": If you want to make a room cooler, do you "turn up" the air conditioning? Or do you "turn it down"? Also, "croaker" meaning a...

Turn Up The AC

Does turning up the A.C. make a room cooler or warmer? A listener grapples with multiple meanings of the word “up.” Martha suggests saying, “Turn up the air conditioning,” not “turn up the air conditioner,” just...

Croakers

If someone offered you a croaker with an old man’s face, would you take it? Here’s a hint: the face belongs to Benjamin Franklin. A Louisiana native shares this rare term for a hundred dollar bill. Grant suspects that it may derive from...

Grammatical Guffaws and Kerfuffles

Hi, all! In the last archive edition before our new season (woohoo!), we cover colorful idioms around the world, portmanteau words, "wooden nickels," "thrice happy," "petered out," and why sneezing makes some people...