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Episode 1581

Your Imaginary Boyfriend

We use the term Milky Way for that glowing arc across the sky. But how people picture it varies from culture to culture. In Sweden, that starry band goes by a name that means “Winter Street,” and in Hawaii, a term for the Milky Way...

Episode 1579

Forty-Eleven Zillion

When there’s no evening meal planned at home, what do you call that scramble to cobble together your own dinner? Some people apply acronyms like YOYO — “you’re on your own” — or CORN, for “Clean Out your Refrigerator...

With Bells On

Ryan in Ketchikan, Alaska, reports that a couple of friends told him they’d attend his new gallery exhibition with bells, meaning they would be there “with great enthusiasm.” The far more common phrase is to be there with bells on...

Psammakosioi

From ancient Greece comes this example of an indefinite hyperbolic numeral such as umpteen, zillion, and fifty-eleven: psammakosioi. Aristophanes coined this term, which was picked up by other ancient writers, and literally means “sand...