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Episode 1614

Cats and Dogs

It’s cats and dogs, and a few other critters, too. Animals prowl around inside several English words, including sleuth, which was originally sleuth-hound, a synonym for bloodhound. Plus, the language we use with our pets and the ways they...

Episode 1584

Sleepy Winks

It was a dark and stormy night. So begins the long and increasingly convoluted prose of Edwards Bulwer-Lytton’s best-known novel. Today the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest asks contestants for fanciful first sentences that are similarly...

Meteoric Rise

Why do we say someone whose career on the ascent is enjoying a meteoric rise? Don’t meteors plummet? For that matter, a caller asks, why do we call “heads up!” when a ball is coming towards us? Shouldn’t it be “heads...

Contranyms

Does sanction mean “a penalty” or “an approval”? Well, both. Martha explains the nature of contranyms, also known as Janus words. Here’s an article about them in the periodical Verbatim. This is part of a complete...