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Episode 1613

Blessing Box

Is there such a thing as a “neutral” accent, and if so what does it sound like? And that quirk in the way southern Californians talk about freeways. They’ll say things like take the 405 and get on the 8. Why the definite article...

Left in the Lurch

A restaurant manager in Kokomo, Indiana, had an employee who failed to show up for work. This left him wondering about the phrase left in the lurch. It probably derives from an old game similar to backgammon called lourche, the object of which is to...

Episode 1547

Cabin Fever

The adjectives canine and feline refer to dogs and cats. But how does English address other groups of animals? Plus, cabin fever has been around much longer than the current pandemic. That restless, antsy, stir-crazy feeling goes back to the days...

Episode 1546

Singing Sand

Cat hair may be something you brush off, but cat hair is also a slang term that means “money.” In the same way, cat beer isn’t alcoholic — some people use cat beer as a joking term for “milk.” And imagine walking on a...

Episode 1535

Beside Myself

The new Downton Abbey movie is a luscious treat for fans of the public-television period piece, but how accurate is the script when it comes to the vocabulary of the early 20th century? It may be jarring to hear the word swag, but it was already at...