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Prophylactic

Anna from Alden, Michigan, recalls as a child looking up the word prophylactic in the dictionary. It goes back to the Greek word phylax, which means “guard.” To guard against tooth decay, you can get dental prophylaxis, also known as...

Episode 1540

Tiger Tail

You may have a favorite word in English, but what about your favorite in another language? The Spanish term ojalá is especially handy for expressing hopefulness and derives from Arabic for “God willing.” In Trinidad, if you want to ask...

Time Machine

After Sarah moved from Wisconsin to Iowa, she sparked some momentary confusion when she asked a store clerk where his TYME machine was. In parts of Wisconsin, Florida, and Michigan there are automated teller machines, or ATMs, called TYME machines...

Pank and a Finnish Proverb

Frida in Marquette, Michigan, shares a proverb from her Finnish heritage that translates as “Until the food is ready, feed your guests with words.” She also asks about pank, a term she often hears there in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan...

Guitars as Axes and Woodshedding

Johanna in Munising, Michigan, has a funny story about a childhood misunderstanding. Guitarists sometimes refer to their instrument as an ax. But at least as early as the 1940s, the slang term ax referred to other instruments, including trombones...