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Episode 1581

Your Imaginary Boyfriend

We use the term Milky Way for that glowing arc across the sky. But how people picture it varies from culture to culture. In Sweden, that starry band goes by a name that means “Winter Street,” and in Hawaii, a term for the Milky Way...

Episode 1580

Beefed It

The words tough, through, and dough all end in O-U-G-H. So why don’t they rhyme? A lively new book addresses the many quirks of English by explaining the history of words and phrases. And: have you ever been in a situation where a group makes...

Episode 1599

What in Tarnation

Language is always evolving, and that’s also true for American Sign Language. A century ago, the sign for “telephone” was one fist below your mouth and the other at your ear, as if you’re holding an old-fashioned candlestick...

Janky, a Fifty-Year Slang Summary

Melanie from San Antonio, Texas, uses the term janky to mean “not good ” or “not working well,” and in her family, they’ll jokingly use the term dejankify and dejankification to refer to washing their dog. The slang...

Episode 1597

I Don’t Have the Spoons

Whether it’s a Rubik’s cube or a round of Wordle, why do so many of us find puzzles irresistible? A new book celebrates the allure and psychological benefits of brain teasers. Plus, powerful language for talking about the chronic...