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Governor Moonbeam

Why is California governor Jerry Brown sometimes called Governor Moonbeam? This ethereal moniker was bestowed by the great Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko to suggest a kind of hippie-dippie, insubstatntial, lack of practicality. This is part...

Verklempt

A listener in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, wonders about the origin of the word verklempt, which describes someone all seized up with emotion. This Yiddish term, also spelled farklempt, enjoyed a surge in popularity during the 1990s when it was used...

coolio

coolio  n.— «What the trucker cap and wallet chain were to hipsters of a moment ago, the Kramden is to what my colleague Mike Albo refers to as the “coolios” of now. Leading with a belly is a male privilege of long standing, of course, a...

zap

zap  n.— «Following the 1969 Stonewall riots, as the nascent gay rights movement became increasingly combative, a gay Philadelphia teenager initiated his own guerrilla war aimed at television, including the CBS Evening News. Mark Segal...

vermacular

vermacular  n.— «Thanks to the character-inspired icons for various Mac-related applications, there’s a new word-building form of entertainment to get bored workers through the doldrums of the day. Like a contemporary version of the grade...

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