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Spagglers and Mary Washington

A listener in Abilene, Texas, says that his Maryland relatives always referred to asparagus as spagglers, so he was shocked when he got to college and realized no one else knew what he was talking about. This vegetable goes by lots of other names...


The glow in the eyes of some animals is called eyeshine, and the adjective that describes such shimmering in a cat’s eyes is chatoyant, from French for “cat.” This is part of a complete episode.

Origin of Ruminate

A caller from Deer River, Minnesota, has lots of experience raising ruminants and wonders if the word ruminate, as in “to ponder or muse about something” stems from the image of such an animal chewing regurgitated cud. Indeed it does. In...

Drought Humor

How dry is it? In the middle of a drought, you might answer that question is “So dry the trees are bribing the dogs.” This is part of a complete episode.

Hairy Panic

“Hairy panic” is a weed that’s wreaking havoc in a small Australian town. The panic in its name has nothing to do with extreme anxiety or overpowering fear. Hairy panic, also known as panic grass, in the scientific genus Panicum...

That’s the Word with the Bark on It

A Zionsville, Indiana, man recalls that when his mother issued a warning to her kids, she would add for emphasis: “And that’s the word with the bark on it.” The bark in this case refers to rough-hewn wood that still has bark on...

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