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Cover the Sun With a Finger

Sam in Westville, Indiana, heard a woman from Puerto Rico use the expression You cannot cover the sun with a finger, referring to the problem of having more things to work on than she could handle. The Spanish expression tapar el sol con un dedo, or...

Episode 1539

Clever Clogs

Ribbon fall. Gallery forest. You won’t find terms like these in most dictionaries, but they and hundreds like them are discussed by famous writers in the book Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape. The book is an intriguing collection...

A Borrowed Day

An email from Sam Rittenberg in New York, New York, describes his mother’s use of borrowed day, a term so closely associated with her that her family had it inscribed on her tombstone. This is part of a complete episode.

Episode 1372

Bouncy House of Language

Some people proudly embrace the label cancer survivor, while others feel that’s not quite the right word. Is there a better term for someone who’s battled cancer? Writers and listeners share the best sentence they’ve read all day...

Cathead Biscuits

Ever eaten golden catheads for breakfast? Yum! A listener shares this Southern term for big, fluffy biscuits. Also, how did people greet each other before “hello” became a standard greeting of choice? What does it mean if someone’s...

Train Away Verbal Fillers

Is it really possible to change your style of speaking so that you stop using the verbal fillers um and you know? Yes, you can. Martha relates her experience with dialect-coach-to-the-stars Sam Chwat. He was adamant that by catching ourselves every...