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News from Planet Word

Hi, all -- In this week's episode of "A Way with Words": If you want to make a room cooler, do you "turn up" the air conditioning? Or do you "turn it down"? Also, "croaker" meaning a...

When Words Collide

A hazy, hot, and humid hello! In this week’s archive episode, we take on headlines that make you do a double take, such as “Child’s Stool Great for Use in Garden” and “Milk Drinkers Turn To Powder.” We discuss a...

Keep Your Tail Over the Dashboard

This week, McGimpers, geetus, and other underworld lingo from the 1930s. Crime novelist James Ellroy stops by to talk slang terms and reveals his own favorite. Also, is the expression “Hear, hear!” or “Here, here!”? Is it...

Crime Lingo from the 1930s

Grant talks about the lingo of criminals from 1930s. Here are more examples from police reporter Ben Kendall’s 1931 Los Angeles Times article, “Underworld ‘Lingo’ Brought Up-to-Date.” This is part of a complete episode.

voice writing

voice writing  n.— «In the US, court reporters have abandoned stenotype machines, whose keyboards use chord-like combinations to represent sounds, for a technique called voice writing. The “writer”—really a speaker—repeats...

124-man

124-man  n.— «The estimable dean was a lifelong crime reporter from the old Herald Tribune, a gentle sage who taught the pick-pocket art of massaging vivid details from a precinct’s “124-man,” the clerk who controlled “good stuff” filed by...