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Episode 1557

Sock it to Me

In the 15th century, the word respair meant “to have hope again.” Although this word fell out of use, it’s among dozens collected in a new book of soothing vocabulary for troubled times. Plus, baseball slang: If a batter...

A Can of Corn in Baseball

A longtime baseball umpire wonders why the slang phrase can of corn refers to “an easily caught pop fly ball.” Another term for “a high fly ball” is rainmaker, suggesting that the ball goes up so far that it’s capable...

Episode 1550

Queen Bee

An artist asks strangers to write haiku about the pandemic and gets back poetic, poignant glimpses of life under lockdown. Plus, the new book Queenspotting features the colorful language of beekeeping! Bees tell each other about a good source of...

Dry Up and Bust

A North Carolina listener wonders about her mother’s comment in response to complaining or pestering: Go dry up and bust! Since the mid-1800s, the slang phrase Dry up! has meant Stop talking! In the theater world, the term dry up can mean to...

Norwegian Phrases

Takk for sist is a Norwegian greeting that means “thanks for the last time,” which conveys the idea that the speaker is pleased to see the person again. Another Norwegian slang phrase translates literally as “to be in the middle of...

Film at 11

For English speakers of a certain age, film at 11 is a slang phrase means “You’ll hear the details later.” It’s a reference to the days before 24-hour cable news, when newscasters would read headlines during the day promoting...