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Dog and Pony Show Origins

What is a dog-and-pony show? This disparaging term goes back to the 1920s, when actual dog and pony shows competed with far more elaborate circuses. Many times the dog-and-pony offerings served as a front to hoochie-coochie shows or tents serving...

What’s Black and White and Cute All Over?

I have a new neighbor, and I’ve been electronically snooping on him or her. I say “him or her” because the surveillance device is the PandaCam at the San Diego Zoo, which welcomed a bouncing baby panda a few weeks ago. And as the...

Dog Marks

What do you call those slobber marks that dogs leave on the inside of car windows? Some of our favorites are woofmarks, dog schmear, and snot kisses. This is part of a complete episode.

Flounder vs. Founder

What’s the difference between flounder and founder? To flounder is “to struggle or thrash about,” while to founder is “to sink or to fail.” Surprisingly, the verb flounder shares no etymological root with the fish...


That little basket that your strawberries and blueberries come in? It’s called a punnet. Just so you know. This is part of a complete episode.

Grenades and Pomegranates

What’s the difference between hand grenades and pomegranates? Not much when you think about their shape and the fact that they’re both packed tightly with small things, which is why both share a linguistic root with the word granular...

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