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Bangorrhea

In her 1958 memoir Beloved Infidel, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s lover Sheilah Graham recalls the famous author’s distaste for exclamation points, the use of which he compared to “laughing at your own joke.” Some have proposed that...

Single as a Jaybird

A woman in Fort Worth, Texas, wonders if she’s alone in using the phrase single as a jaybird to describe herself as unpartnered. The far more common phrase is naked as a jaybird, which is of uncertain origin, but which may stem from a young...

Liberal vs. Libertarian

The political terms liberal and libertarian may look similar, but they have very different meanings. Both stem from Latin liber, “free,” but the word liberal entered English hundreds of years before libertarian. This is part of a...

Grex Root

Martha spoke recently at an Audubon Society event, where she traced the role of the Latin stem greg-. It’s a form of the Latin word grex meaning “flock” or “herd.” This root appears in many English words involving...

1946 Police Slang

A Tacoma, Wash., police report from 1946 is chock-full of showy police slang, from the punk on the stem to the handle of the beefer. Read the whole thing here. This is part of a complete episode.

talk and die syndrome

talk and die syndrome  n.— «Doctors have suggested that Richardson suffered from something called “talk and die” syndrome, in which bleeding that occurs between the skull and brain stem is delayed. Patients seem fine after the...