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Thickly Settled

Marisa in Bellingham, Washington, was puzzled by a traffic sign in Massachusetts that read “Thickly Settled.” As far back as the 1830s, the term thickly settled was used in the Massachusetts legal code to refer to an area with a lot of...

Buy the Farm Origin

Adair in Fort Worth, Texas, says that her mother said that when traveling a dangerous stretch of road she and her husband almost bought the ranch, meaning they came close to having a fatal wreck. The more common phrase is bought the farm...

Episode 1511

Care Package

Sending someone a care package shows you care, of course. But the first care packages were boxes of food and personal items for survivors of World War II. They were from the Committee for American Remittances to Europe, the acronym for which is CARE...

Episode 1508

Take Tea for the Fever

Silence comes in many forms. Writer Paul Goodman says there is, for example, the noisy silence of “resentment and self-recrimination,” and the helpful, participatory silence of actively listening to someone speak. • The strange story...

Episode 1445

You Bet Your Boots

You may have heard the advice that to build your vocabulary you should read, read, and then read some more – and make sure to include a wide variety of publications. But what if you just don’t have that kind of time? Martha and Grant...