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Aliquot

A chemistry professor in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, says a word that she uses in the lab is also handy in everyday life. To aliquot something means “to divide into equal portions.” In piano construction, aliquot scaling involves adding...

Take-Off Word Quiz

Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a take-off word quiz. All the answers to this quiz involve removing the letter E from a word to form another word. For example, if the clue is “The man at the piano played the black keys with skinny, knobby...

To Harp on Something

Does the expression to harp on, as in “to nag,” have anything to do with the stringed instrument one plays by plucking? Yes! As early as the 16th century to harp all of one string meant to keep playing the same single note monotonously...

The Life of Riley

An Indianapolis listener who lives on same street where James Whitcomb Riley made his home wonders if the poet’s name has anything to do with the expression associated with living in high style, “the life of Riley.” Click on the...

Dangerous Books You Should Read

Howdy, pilgrims! This week in the A Way with Words podcast, discover the joys (and temptations!) of two new books of collected wisdom: "The Yale Book of Quotations" edited by Fred Shapiro, and James Geary's "Guide to the...

tampon rock

tampon rock  n.— «The other day I came across one of the most descriptive and appropriate genre titles. The lead singer of Dragonette called her previous work “Tampon Rock.” This genre is girls or women with guitars or a piano...