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What a Hotsy-Totsy Tchotchke

The word tchotchke, pronounced CHOTCH-kee, means “knickknack” or “trinket.” Also spelled chotchkie or tsatske, this word was borrowed into English from Yiddish tshatshke, and is cognate with several words that mean...

Episode 1581

Your Imaginary Boyfriend

We use the term Milky Way for that glowing arc across the sky. But how people picture it varies from culture to culture. In Sweden, that starry band goes by a name that means “Winter Street,” and in Hawaii, a term for the Milky Way...

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

Charlie in Lexington, Kentucky, says his wife, who’s from the eastern part of the state, uses a peculiar phrase to indicate that something’s not her responsibility: Not my circus, not my monkeys. This dismissive saying is at least 30...

Farblonjet

Elliott, from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, asks about the Yiddish word variously spelled farblonjet, farblunget, and other ways. It means lost, befuddled, or confused and may derive from a Polish term meaning to go astray. This is part of a complete...

Name From Home

A caller from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, was puzzled when she moved there and locals asked, “What’s your name from home?” meaning, “What’s your maiden name?” The community has a strong Polish heritage and she...