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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...

Love Fridges and Freedges

After our conversation about blessing boxes, those little free pantries stocked with donated food, a listener points out the use of love fridges in Chicago. These community fridges, sometimes called freedges, are springing up in lots of places. This...

Take “The” 405 Like a SoCal Native

Why do southern Californians refer to interstate thoroughfares with the definite article, as in the 405 or the 8? This usage is a result of the history of freeways in Southern California, and is heard in a few other places, including Phoenix...


The term palaver, meaning an idle or prolonged discussion, comes from the old Portuguese term palavra that British sailors picked up at West African ports in the 1700s, where palaver huts are places where villagers can gather to discuss local...


What do the words marathon, paisley, and bikini have in common? They’re all words that derive from the names of places. Martha and Grant talk about these and other toponyms. This is part of a complete episode.

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