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Icognseeto Sniglet

On HBO’s Not Necessarily the News, comedian Rich Hall offered sniglets, goofy made-up words for things and ideas that don’t already have names, like aquadextrous, describing someone able to use their toes to turn off the bathtub faucet...

Are Surprises Inherently Positive?

Nadine in San Antonio, Texas, disagrees with her boyfriend, who insists that the word surprise suggests something inherently good, so it’s impossible to call something a bad surprise. A quick look at data from the Brigham Young University...

Worries of Failure Cause Flop Sweat

Someone who’s anxious about performing may break out in a flop sweat. The term comes from the theatre slang, where worries that one’s production is a flop may cause nervous perspiration. In the 1987 film Broadcast News, Albert...

Tragomaschalia

The medical term tragomaschalia means “smelly armpit sweat,” and derives from Greek words that mean “goat armpit.” This is part of a complete episode.

Mustard On It

When does a word’s past make it too sensitive to use in the present? In contra dancing, there’s a particular move that dancers traditionally call a gypsy. But there’s a growing recognition that many people find the term gypsy...

Hot Mess

Sneaky contract lingo, advice for writing well, and preserving a dying language. Say you’re scrolling through an online transaction where you’re asked to read the “Terms and Conditions.” Do you actually read them or just check the...

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