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Episode 1507

Sundog

A clever pun can make the difference between a so-so phrase and a memorable one. The phrase “the last straw” refers to an old fable about too many items in a load, but it takes on a whole new meaning in a public-awareness campaign about...

Hang for a Sheep

Rick calls from Rouses Point, New York, to ask about the etymology of the phrase to hang for a sheep as for a lamb, meaning to go for broke or to go all out. The answer involves the old tradition of capital punishment for poaching animals. Given the...

Origin of Ruminate

A caller from Deer River, Minnesota, has lots of experience raising ruminants and wonders if the word ruminate, as in “to ponder or muse about something” stems from the image of such an animal chewing regurgitated cud. Indeed it does. In...

Grex Root

Martha spoke recently at an Audubon Society event, where she traced the role of the Latin stem greg-. It’s a form of the Latin word grex meaning “flock” or “herd.” This root appears in many English words involving...

Animal Sounds Game

Our Quizmaster John Chaneski has quiz based on animal sounds. What sort of wild party would a sheep throw? What five-masted ship do golden retrievers sail on? Tip: For this game, animal sounds are just as important as advanced vocabularies. This is...