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Episode 1604

Snookums and Snicklefritz

A new book about how animals perceive their environment reveals immense worlds beyond our own. A bee can see ultraviolet light, catfish have taste buds all over their bodies, and manatees use highly sensitive lips to examine nearby objects. Also...

Canuper, a Cocktail or Stiff Drink

Pete in Minneapolis, Minnesota, wonders about the word canooper, which he’s heard used to refer to a type of alcoholic beverage. Also spelled kanuper, this word is rarely found outside Minnesota. Its origin is uncertain, although Red Fisher...

Pepper Alley

A kindergartener misunderstands the name of an event at his school, insisting to his mother that he attended a pepper alley, not a pep rally. Let’s hope that’s the case, because pepper alley is actually 19th-century boxing slang for...

Get the Goody Out

Amelia in Arlington, Virginia, was surprised to hear her wife, who is from Iowa, use the phrase getting the goody out to describe someone sporting a well-worn pair of sweatpants, indicating that they were continuing to get the most out of that...

Why Are Some Competitions “Heats”?

Why do we use the word heat to denote a preliminary qualifying race? Hundreds of years ago, a single instance of heating something such as a piece of metal over a fire for metalworking was called a heat. Later that term was applied to “a round...

Wet Dress Rehearsal

A wet dress rehearsal is a run-through of all the processes required before a rocket launch, up until, but not including, liftoff. What makes this simulation wet is that the rocket’s fuel tanks are filled, then drained once the countdown clock...