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Mallorca’s Flag Pun

Fans of vexillology, the study of flags, know that the town of Manacor on the island of Mallorca has a municipal flag that features a visual pun on its name. It’s a drawing of a hand holding a heart, inspired by the Catalan words mà, meaning...

Xylyl Meaning and Origins

Olivia, a sixth-grader in Somerville, New Jersey, says she and her classmates were flummoxed by a word on their spelling-bee study list: xylyl. It’s a term from chemistry, referring to a group of atoms derived from a liquid called xylene. One...

A Brown Study

To be in a brown study means to be “deep in thought,” and often refers to gloomy or melancholy contemplation. This is part of a complete episode.

Intentional Misspellling of Business Names

Andrea in San Diego, California, noticed a new restaurant with a name spelled in a curious way. Is there a term for this kind of intentional misspelling used in advertising? Onomastics is the study of naming, and a good source for information about...

Horsing Up in the Navy

Bob from Rockford, Illinois, recalls that forty years ago when he was in the Navy, his instructors would stamp their foot to emphasize a particular point that might be on the test later. They referred to this action as horsing up the students, and...

Proxemics and Public Space

Tony in Reno, Nevada, says he’s noticed people leaving more space between each other while standing in a queue. Is there a better term for this than personal space? The study of public spaces and the way we move around them is known as...