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Episode 1603

If Grandma Had Wheels

While compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, lexicographer James Murray exchanged hundreds of letters a week with authors, advisors, and volunteer researchers. A new collection online lets you eavesdrop on discussions about which words should be...

Well, Glorgy Be!

If you’re tired of saying It’s hot outside, you always say It’s glorgy, pronounced with hard g sounds. This Scottish word may derive from an old word meaning “soft mud.” You could also say the weather is pothery, an...

Mulligrubs and Mulligrubbing

Betsy in Murray, Kentucky, reports that a friend was baffled when Betsy told her Quit your mulligrubbing. She was advising her friend to stop complaining. Since the 16th century, mulligrub meant “a state of depression,” or “a bad...

Episode 1547

Cabin Fever

The adjectives canine and feline refer to dogs and cats. But how does English address other groups of animals? Plus, cabin fever has been around much longer than the current pandemic. That restless, antsy, stir-crazy feeling goes back to the days...

Flat as a Flivver

Kathy from Jamestown, North Dakota, has long used the phrase flat as a flivver to describe something flat. The term flivver dates back to the early 1900s; it originally referred to something that failed, such as a business or theatrical show...