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Episode 1587

Herd of Turtles

Some college students are using the word loyalty as a synonym for monogamy. Are the meanings of these words now shifting? Plus, a biologist discovers a new species of bat, then names it after a poet he admires. Also, warm memories of how a childhood...

Never Cook Your Cabbage Twice

Diane calls from eastern North Carolina to talk about a phrase her father used if she asked him to repeat something: I never chew my celery twice. He probably conflated the idea of chewing celery with some far more common expressions involving doing...

Right as Rain

Jeffrey in New Bern, North Carolina, wonders why we use the phrase right as rain to mean “all satisfactory” or “quite correct.” No one’s sure about the origin of this expression, although it may reflect positive...

Episode 1586

Mittens in Moonlight

Need a slang term that can replace just about anynoun? 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...

Pull The Other One With Bells On

In English, if you doubt what someone is telling you, you can say so with such idioms as Stop pulling my leg or Pull the other one — it has bells on. Other languages have similarly colorful phrases for expressing skepticism. In French, you might say...