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Snaggletooth (episode #1560)

Many of us struggled with the Old English poem “Beowulf” in high school. But what if you could actually hear “Beowulf” in the English of today? There’s a new translation by Maria Dahvana Headley that uses contemporary...

First of May, Donnicker, and Other Circus Lingo

Michelle from Valdosta, Georgia, says that in 1976, when she started out as a circus performer, she was referred to as a first of May, circus lingo that means “a newbie.” Throughout her two decades traveling with the circus, she and her...

Hot Dog, Cold Turkey

Why do we call a frankfurter a hot dog? It seems an unsettling 19th-century rumor is to blame. Also, if someone quits something abruptly, why do we say they quit cold turkey? This term’s roots may lie in the history of boxing. Plus, a...

Catch You on the Flip Side

Some countries have strict laws about naming babies. New Zealand authorities, for example, denied a request to name some twins Fish and Chips. • Halley’s Comet seen centuries before English astronomer Edmund Halley ever spotted it...

New Zealand Baby Name Laws

New Zealand also has strict naming laws, but somehow the Violence, Number 16 Bus shelter, Midnight Chardonnay, and twins named Benson and Hedges all passed muster. However, the proposed names Stallion, Yeah Detroit, Sex Fruit, and Fish and Chips...

Frozen Rope

Where would you find a sports commentator talking about high cheese and ducks on a pond? Here’s a hint: both terms are part of what makes America’s pastime so colorful. • A government official in New Zealand proposes a new, more...