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Episode 1568

Lasagna Hog

Understanding the varieties of conversational styles can mean the difference between feeling you’re understood and being insulted. “High-involvement” speakers interrupt or talk along with someone else to signal their enthusiasm...

At First Blush

Jeanne from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, is perplexed by the phrase at first blush, which would seem to have to do with embarrassment. But at least as early as the mid-14th century, another meaning of blush has been “glance,” so at first...

Hue and Cry

Today, the phrase hue and cry means a clamor or uproar, but in old English law, hue and cry referred to the public outcry during the pursuit of a criminal suspect. Anyone who heard this shouting was legally obligated to join in the chase. This is...

Knowledge Box

Knowledge box is an old slang term for noggin; one 1755  describes someone who “almost cracked his knowledge box.” This is part of a complete episode.

The Dreaded Diaeresis

What do readers of The New Yorker complain about most when they write letters to the editor? Those two dots above vowels in words like cooperate and reelect. The diaeresis, as those marks are known, has remained in use at the magazine ever since the...