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Pick Your Brain

On our Facebook group, listeners had a spirited discussion about the expression I’d like to pick your brain, meaning “I’d like to get your advice.” It’s a metaphor for extracting knowledge, of course, but the literal...

Old Similes

A simile is a rhetorical device that describes by comparing two different things or ideas using the word like or as. But what makes a good simile? The 1910 book Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases, by Yale public-speaking instructor Grenville Kleiser...

Litote Understatements

Expressions like, “I don’t not like that,” or, “You can’t not like being out,” are versions of litotes, a rhetorical device used for expressing understatement. This is part of a complete episode.

Language Without Metaphors

Would you rather write in a language with no punctuation or without the use of similes or metaphors? Grant and Martha agree that texting has proven our ability to get a point across without periods or commas. On the other hand, sometimes an idea...

Expression “Not Bad”

Not bad-which, like many phrases, sounds cool when you say it with an English accent-is an example of litotes, or an understatement used for effect. This is part of a complete episode.