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Episode 1548

Yak Shaving

There was a time when William Shakespeare was just another little seven-year-old in school. Classes in his day were demanding — and all in Latin. A new book argues that this rigorous curriculum actually nurtured the creativity that later flourished...

Shaving Yak Hair

Greg in San Antonio, Texas, who works in the tech industry, says he and his co-workers use the phrase shaving yak hair to describe a monotonous, tedious task. The phrase was inspired by a 1991 segment of The Ren and Stimpy Show, in which the title...

Episode 1532

Off the Turnip Truck

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when people disagreed over the best word to use when answering the phone. Alexander Graham Bell suggested answering with ahoy! but Thomas Edison was partial to hello! A fascinating new book about...

Favorite Letters of the Alphabet

Do you have a favorite letter? The sound or typeface varieties of a letter can really catch us. For more about the visual and emotional properties of various letters, check out Simon Garfield’s book about fonts, Just My Type. Grant also...

Words That Will Color Your World

Happy September! In this week’s archive episode, “Sailor’s Delight,” we talk about weather proverbs, pooflapoo pie, tricks for remembering how to spell difficult words, and alternatives to the word “mentee.” We...