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The Pipes, the Pipes are Calling

Colin lives in Hollywood, California, where he’s a professional bagpipe player. But does he play the bagpipe or play the bagpipes? Either is correct, although most bagpipers use the plural form. Bagpipe music consists of a skirl, the...

Pipe Down

Pipe down, meaning “shush,” comes from the days when a ship’s bosun (or bo’s’n or bos’n, also known as a boatswain), would actually blow a whistle to tell the rest of the crew that the wind had shifted or a...

Pipe Dream

A pipe dream is “an unobtainable hope” or “an unrealistic fantasy.” The term originates from the idea of opium pipes and the strange dreams one might incur while high on opium. Back in the 1890s when the term first showed up...

Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It!

Which came first, orange the color or orange the fruit? And what’s a busman’s holiday? Martha and Grant talk about bumbershoots, brollies, nursery rhymes, and alternatives to the word unicycle. Plus, an app-inspired quiz, favorite...

straight lining

straight lining  n.— «Although the city sometimes pulls meters to thwart the most egregious offenders, these water thieves use a method called straight lining to keep the water running. They insert a pipe that taps into the supply line...

snow farming

snow farming  n.— «The Ski Club of Great Britain reports that Laax has been engaging in a technique called “snow farming” which aims to reduce the amount of snow made by artificial means. Snow Farming works by storing snow in a...