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soot booger

soot booger  n.— «In informal industry parlance, a soot booger is a crusty buildup of stuff that is in coal, but didn’t burn up in the boiler and is too heavy to float out of the smokestack—the soot. Big globs of it—the boogers—accumulate...

excitation leap

excitation leap  n.— «How, in fact, does a reindeer warn of danger? It jumps in the air—what scientists call an “excitation leap”—and then runs away. All of the other reindeer see the leap, see the running, and take off running, too...

mockolate

mockolate  n.— «Andy McShea is a Harvard-trained molecular biologist using his scientific talent in Seattle to promote “true chocolate” and steer consumers away from inadvertently ingesting all that other brown sweet stuff he...

Creative Terms for Dust Bunnies

That stuff under your bed—what do you call it? Dust bunnies? House moss? Beggar’s velvet? Ghost turds? Those fluffy little puffballs go by lots of different names. But a caller is perplexed by his mother’s term for those ever-multiplying...

Duct Tape vs. Duck Tape

Is that oh-so-handy sticky stuff called duct tape or duck tape? An Emmy-nominated filmmaker is wondering, specifically because he has to instruct narrators to be careful to avoid running together a “T” sound at the end of a word with the...

wetneck

wetneck  n.— «Mencia’s funniest stuff was his most cutting, from delineating the similarities between rednecks and Mexicans (or “wetnecks,” as he called them) to dismissing Hispanic gangbangers as “idiots”...