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Sailing Slang and Jargon

After hanging out with San Diego sailing enthusiasts, Martha picked up several bits of slang and jargon. Catenary describes the desirable curve of an anchor chain, from Latin catena, meaning “chain.” A chain that is not pulled up...

Words in English from Native Languages

Craig, a whale biologist in Alaska, wonders how many words have been adopted into English from such languages as Inuit, Yupik, Tlingit and Inupiaq. Indigenous languages in the far North have contributed mukluk, malamute, kayak, and parka. The word...


GPS art is the creation of a few bikers and runners who track their trips with an app and then post the image of the route they traveled online. The results so far include electronic “drawings” of Darth Vader, Yoda, and characters from...

Route Pronunciation

Should route be pronounced to rhyme with root or stout? It has a long history of rhyming with stout — although anyone who’s traveled Route 66 might prefer to say it differently. This is part of a complete episode.

Busman’s Holiday

Do you ever spend your off-time doing something work related? This is known as a busman’s holiday or a postman’s holiday, as in the British understanding of holiday as a vacation or time off work. Research for a dictionary entry on...

Rock Climbing Beta

Rock climbers use the term beta to refer to any information they receive about a route before climbing it. Is it related to beta as in “beta-testing software”? This is part of a complete episode.

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