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Bang In and Bang Out Sick

When Sean in New York City contemplated telling his boss he wasn’t coming into work the next day, he texted a friend that he might bang out sick. He wonders about the phrase, which he picked up from his father, a police dispatcher in New York...

Off the Front Page and Off the Back

Jared in Kaiser, Oregon, wonders about his father’s response when someone asks how he’s doing: I’m staying off the front page and I’m staying off the back page. Although this specific phrase isn’t widespread, it may have to do with...

Box with Five Handles

Barb in Battle Creek, Michigan, reports that when she was a small child, a neighbor from Georgia said she would bring her a box with five handles for her birthday. Barb was overjoyed until she learned that the phrase is actually a joking euphemism...

Episode 1588

East Overshoe

Some people work hard to lose their accent in order to fit in. Others may be homesick for the voices they grew up with and try to reclaim them. How can you regain your old accent? Also, a compelling book about scientific taxonomy shows how humans...

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...

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...