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All Verklempt

Of all the letters in the alphabet, which two or three are your favorites? If your short list includes one or more of your initials, that’s no accident. Psychological research shows we’re drawn to the letters in our name. • If you doubt...

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...

Episode 1453

Hell for Leather

Victorian slang and a modern controversy over language and gender. In the early 1900’s, a door-knocker wasn’t just what visitors used to announce their arrival, it was a type of beard with a similar shape. And in the 21st century: Is it...

Episode 1374

Polyglot Problems

It’s the business of business jargon. Say you’re in line at the drugstore. Does it bother you if the cashier says, “Next guest”? In department stores and coffeeshops, does the term “guest” suggest real...

Noctivagant Vespertilians

Noctivagant people are those who wander the night, and vespertilian folks have bat-like qualities. Add these to “shirtless” as poignant ways to describe a vampire. This is part of a complete episode.