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Episode 1536

The Black Dog

Books were rare treasures in the Middle Ages, painstakingly copied out by hand. So how to protect them from theft? Scribes sometimes added a curse to the first page of those books that was supposed to keep thieves away — and some were as vicious as...

Pronouncing Hover

How do you pronounce the word hover? In England, it rhymes more with “clobber” than “lover.” If you want to learn how to say “My hovercraft is full of eels” in lots of different languages, head on over to Omniglot...

The Bee’s Knees

Let’s put the moose on the table: You have questions, and Grant and Martha have answers. For example, why would someone have an albatross around the neck? And what’s so cool about bees’ knees, anyway? Plus, jockey boxes...

Brobdingnagian and Unabridged

Why do spelling bees use such strange words — often foreign words that almost nobody uses? Like cymotrichous, stromuhr, Laodicean, guerdon, serrefine, and Ursprache? We answered that question in last week’s episode — it’s what happens...

You Bet Your Sweet Bippy

Why do some puns strike us as clever, while others are plain old groaners? Martha and Grant puzzle over this question. Also, the difference between baggage and luggage, a royal word quiz, the “egg” in egg on, what to call someone who...

Cathead Biscuits

Ever eaten golden catheads for breakfast? Yum! A listener shares this Southern term for big, fluffy biscuits. Also, how did people greet each other before “hello” became a standard greeting of choice? What does it mean if someone’s...