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Episode 1521

Spill the Tea

If someone urges you to spill the tea, they probably don’t want you tipping over a hot beverage. Originally, the tea here was the letter T, as in “truth.” To spill the T means to “pass along truthful information.” Plus...

Takeoffs Word Game

Quiz Guy John Chaneski proffers a puzzle he calls “F-Takeoffs,” which involves removing the initial letter F from a word to get an entirely different word. For example, if John orders some lumberjack tools by sending some scanned...

Episode 1513

Howling Fantods

Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing drug-laced dollar bills, or that AM radio stations only broadcast in the morning? • A moving new...

Fart in a Mitten and Variants

Sharon in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, says that when her father wanted his children to stop squirming, he used to say “You’re just like a fart in a mitten.” Versions of this term for something moving around a lot, feature a fart in a...

Beat the Band

Can language change bad behavior in crowded places? The Irish Railway system has launched an ad campaign to encourage passengers to be more generous at boarding time. For example, have you ever rummaged through your belongings or pretended to have...

Noon of Night

As a kid, you may have played that game where you phone someone to say, “Is your refrigerator running? Then you better go catch it!” What’s the term for that kind of practical joke? Is it a crank call or a prank call? There’s...