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Episode 1556

Good Vibrations

Asthenosphere, a geologist’s term for the molten layer beneath the earth’s crust, sparks a journey that stretches all the way from ancient Greece to the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Plus: What the heck is a dogberg? It’s when...

Might Could, Might Should

Modals are helping verbs that affect a verb’s grammatical mood and express possibility, capability, likelihood, permission, or obligation. The use in the Southern United States of multiple modals, such as might could and might should reflect...

Pree

In the Scots language, pree means “to taste” or “sample.” If you pree someone’s mouth, then you give them a kiss on the lips. It’s a variant of the word prove, and cognate with Spanish probar, to “taste...

Slob’s Irish Origin

The English word slob, denoting “an untidy, sloppy, or lazy person,” derives from the Irish Gaelic word slab, which means “mud.” This is part of a complete episode.

Dingle-Dousie

If you ever need a term for “a stick lit at one end and waved in the air to form an arc of light,” look no further than Scotland. There, such a plaything is called a dingle-dousie. This is part of a complete episode.

Hue and Cry

Today, the phrase hue and cry means a clamor or uproar, but in old English law, hue and cry referred to the public outcry during the pursuit of a criminal suspect. Anyone who heard this shouting was legally obligated to join in the chase. This is...