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Episode 1586

Mittens in Moonlight

Need a slang term that can replace just about any noun? Try chumpie. If you’re from Philadelphia, you may already know this handy placeholder word. And there’s Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, and … The Bronx — why do we add...

Episode 1584

Sleepy Winks

It was a dark and stormy night. So begins the long and increasingly convoluted prose of Edwards Bulwer-Lytton’s best-known novel. Today the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest asks contestants for fanciful first sentences that are similarly...

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...

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 1574

Scooter-Pooting

Old. Elderly. Senior. Why are we so uncomfortable when we talk about reaching a certain point in life? An 82-year-old seeks a more positive term to describe how she feels about her age. And: a linguist helps solve a famous kidnapping case, using the...

Episode 1570

Cool Beans

If you speak a second or third language, you may remember the first time you dreamed in that new tongue. But does this milestone mean you’re actually fluent? And a couple’s dispute over the word regret: Say you wish you’d been able...