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Episode 1625

Strong Coffee

During the late 19th and early 20th century, thousands of volunteers helped crowdsource the Oxford English Dictionary. This venerable reference work includes citations sent in by inventors, eccentrics, scientists and educators, an Arctic explorer —...

The Dictionary People

Robert Charles Hope, inventor of the crank used to adjust the tension on a tennis net, is among thousands of readers who in the late 19th century responded to a call from the Oxford English Dictionary to send in citations for notable words they...

Episode 1502

Mimeographs and Dittos

How colors got their names, and a strange way to write. The terms blue and orange arrived in English via French, so why didn’t we also adapt the French for black and white? • Not every example of writing goes in one direction across the page...

Episode 1592

You Talk Like a Sausage  

Do you refer to your dog or cat as “somebody”? As in: When you love somebody that much, you don’t mind if they slobber. In other words, is your pet a somebody or a something? Also, for centuries, there was little consistency in the...

Episode 1589

Deep-Fried Air

Eels, orts, and Wordle! Sweden awarded its most prestigious literary award to a book about…eels. The Book of Eels reveals the mysterious life cycle of this sea creature and its significance for famous figures from Aristotle to Sigmund Freud. Plus...