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Episode 1538

Little Shavers

The word hipster might seem recent, but it actually originated in the 1930s when it referred to jazz aficionados who were in the know about the best nightclubs and cool music. Speaking of music, a professional musician reports that it’s...

Gung Ho

The origins of the peace symbol, why we say someone who’s enthusiastic is gung ho, a tasty spin on stuffed foccacia that originated in eastern Sicily, curling parents, sharking and other words for driving around a parking lot looking for a...

To Hell in a Handbasket

A Huntsville, Alabama, man finds that his younger co-workers have never heard the phrase going to hell in a handbasket. Although the expression is at least as old as the U.S. Civil War, its etymology remains unclear. In the early 1960s, the humorist...

Mustard On It

When does a word’s past make it too sensitive to use in the present? In contra dancing, there’s a particular move that dancers traditionally call a gypsy. But there’s a growing recognition that many people find the term gypsy...

Catch My Fade

If you’re sending out party invitations, what’s a sure-fire way to get hold of everyone? Email? Snailmail? Facebook? Texting? Twitter? Or a plain old-fashioned phone call? Different folks have different communication preferences, and...