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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...

Gym Class Pinnies

Our conversation about the phrase pain in the pinny and its relationship to the word pinafore prompted Susan from Eugene, Oregon, to share a memory of wearing pinnies in gym class. This is part of a complete episode.

A Pain Under the Pinny

Lois in Newfoundland, Canada, asks about the phrase pain in the pinny, meaning “stomach discomfort.” Pain in the pinny, or more commonly pain under the pinny, refers to a pain under one’s pinafore, or apron, the word pinafore...

Spleeny

Jan in Ketchikan, Alaska, says when she worked in a hospital in Maine, co-workers described a patient with a low pain threshold or otherwise reluctant to move about as spleeny. New Englanders in particular use the term spleeny to mean fussy...

James Baldwin Quote

In 1963, the writer James Baldwin was the subject of a profile in LIFE magazine, in which he observed, “You think your pain and heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” This is part of a complete...