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Episode 1529

At First Blush

Book recommendations and the art of apology. Martha and Grant share some good reads, including an opinionated romp through English grammar, a Spanish-language adventure novel, an account of 19th-century dictionary wars, and a gorgeously illustrated...

Tight as a Tick

The expression tight as a tick is inspired by the idea of being full-to-bursting, like one of those insects when it’s engorged with blood. Tight as a tick can also describe someone who’s quite drunk or very miserly. Other phrases that...

Episode 1528

Gift Horse

The edge of the Grand Canyon. A remote mountaintop. A medieval cathedral. Some places are so mystical you feel like you’re close to another dimension of space and time. There’s a term for such locales: thin places. And: did you ever go...

Episode 1524

Kite in a Phone Booth

Stunt performers in movies have their own jargon for talking about their dangerous work. In New York City, the slang term brick means “cold,” and dumb brick means “really cold.” Plus: the East and Central African tradition...

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...

Episode 1518

One-Armed Paper Hanger

The emotional appeal of handwriting and the emotional reveal of animal phrases. Should children be taught cursive writing in school, or is their time better spent studying other things? A handwritten note and a typed one may use the very same words...