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Empty Wagons Make the Most Noise

Marjorie in Huntsville, Alabama, wonders about the saying Empty wagons make the most noise suggesting that the people who talk the most about a subject aren’t necessarily the most knowledgeable. This notion goes all the way back to ancient...

Singing and Barking Sands

Singing sand refers to the roaring noise or boom produced by vibrations in sand dunes. Barking sand, which makes yipping noises when you drag your feet along it, is found along coastlines in Hawaii and elsewhere. These terms are discussed in more...

Whoop it Up

Amanda in Indianapolis, Indiana, wonders about her mother’s exhortation whoop it up!, meaning “Get going!” It’s part of a long tradition of making noise to urge someone to hurry. This is part of a complete episode.

Funny Laboratory Sign

A listener leaves us a voicemail about a sign his high school science teacher posted in the classroom to encourage students to keep the noise down. It read “Laboratory — more of the first 5, less of the last 7.” As in more of the first...

Origin of “Pooh-Pooh”

An Alabama man wonders about the verb to pooh-pooh, meaning to disdain or disapprove. It has nothing to do with the similar-sounding word for excrement, but rather the noise one makes when being dismissive. It started as simply pooh in the 1500s...

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