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Episode 1586

Mittens in Moonlight

Need a slang term that can replace just about any noun? Try chumpie. If you’re from Philadelphia, you may already know this handy placeholder word. And there’s Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, and … The Bronx — why do we add...

Pepper Alley

A kindergartener misunderstands the name of an event at his school, insisting to his mother that he attended a pepper alley, not a pep rally. Let’s hope that’s the case, because pepper alley is actually 19th-century boxing slang for...

Whistle Britches

Writers and where they do their best creative work. A new book on Geoffrey Chaucer describes the dark, cramped, smelly room where he wrote his early work. Which raises the question: What kind of space do you need to produce your best writing...

Like a Duck on a June Bug

Why are the names of cars so unimaginative? Grant argues that auto manufacturers might take inspiration from ornithology to build a better car name. (Then again, would you be any less aggravated if you were rear-ended by a lazuli bunting?) Also this...

scud

scud  n.—Gloss: the small and very hot “bird’s eye” chili pepper, also known as the “mouse-dropping” chili. Usually said to be nicknamed after the Scud missile. «I did balk a little at the call for 75 birdseye...