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Everything’s Butter

If someone ever asks you how you are, you’re feeling on top of the world, you can say Alles in Butter (or im butter in some German dialects). It’s German for “Everything’s great” — literally, “All is in butter.”...

If I Were Any Better I’d…

An Evansville, Indiana, listener says she responds to the question “how are you?” with a phrase she adopted from her grandmother: “If I was any better, I’d be twins.” There are several versions along these lines:...

To Crush on Someone

When did the expression have a crush on someone come into use? The television series Downton Abbey has dropped this and other fun bits of language, but no need to worry about its historical accuracy — crush has been around since the early 1880s. To...

Gazump

What does it mean to gazump someone? This phrase, specifically meaning “to swindle a customer in a real estate deal,” came about in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s before disappearing and then popping up again in England in the...

Lunatic Fringe

In this week’s episode, “It was bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Martha and Grant discuss their favorite first lines from novels. Also this week, palmer-housing, beanplating, meeting cute, bad...

Bumbershoots

Rihanna’s hit “Umbrella” may not have had the same ring if she’d referred to being “under my bumbershoot.” Nonetheless, bumbershoot, bumberell, brolly, and bumbersol, among others, are all