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Cut Me a Huss

Manuel in Fort Worth, Texas, wonders about a phrase he’s heard from his dad and brothers: Cut me a husk meaning “Give me a break.” The term evolved from slang used by U.S. Marines serving in Vietnam, and HUS, the configuration for...

Minip, Primip, Nullip

Obstetricians use the term multip as shorthand for multiparous, the adjective describing a woman who has given birth to more than one child. A woman who is nulliparous has not given birth at all, and a primipara has given birth only once. This is...

The Greek Root “Stenos”

The word stenophagous means eating a limited variety of food. It derives from Greek stenos, meaning narrow, also found in stenography (literally, narrow writing) and stenosis, a medical term for abnormal narrowing. This is part of a complete episode.

Jimmies and Joes

A Forth Worth, Texas, listener who interviewed candidates for a head football coach position at a high school reports that out of eight interviewees, six of them used the phrase, “It’s not about the X’s and the O’s...

2013 Words of the Year

This list serves as a shorthand of our preoccupations for the year 2013. It’s a cross-section of words across all public arenas, flavored with the zeitgeist, powered by emotions and spread through innate usefulness. Pop culture, science...

The Language of Less Than Three

Whoever wrote “The Book of Love” neglected to include the handy emoticon <3, which looks like a heart if you turn your head sideways. Grant and Martha talk about how that bit of affectionate shorthand can function as a verb, and about...