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Spleeny

Spleeny, meaning “hypersensitive” or “hypochondriacal,” is chiefly heard in New England and goes back to an old sense of the spleen affecting one’s mood. This is part of a complete episode.

I’ll Be Sheep-Dipped

What a difference pronunciation makes! The United States has a Department of Defense, and an individual might take classes in self-defense. So why do football and basketball coaches say they’re proud of their . . . “DEE-fence?”...

Lush Desert Islands

Many desert islands don’t look like a desert at all. They’re lush and green. That’s because the term reflects the old sense of desert meaning “wild and uninhabited.” This is part of a complete episode.

Neither Moss Nor Sand

If you can make neither moss nor sand of something, then if you can’t make sense of it. This phrase is particularly common in Northern England. This is part of a complete episode.

Springtime Twitterpation

Springtime is the right time to feel twitterpated—you know, you’re smitten beyond a crush. Speaking of relationships, are dog owners really owners, or should they call themselves something else, like guardian or human? And if you’re up...

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