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Book Recommendations

More book recommendations: For a smart, in-depth look at language change and usage controversies, Martha suggests Talk on the Wild Side: Why Language Can’t Be Tamed by Lane Greene. Grant says his 11-year-old son thoroughly enjoyed all of the...

Episode 1507

Sundog

A clever pun can make the difference between a so-so phrase and a memorable one. The phrase “the last straw” refers to an old fable about too many items in a load, but it takes on a whole new meaning in a public-awareness campaign about...

Copacetic

Brand names, children’s games, and the etiquette of phone conversations. Those clever plastic PEZ dispensers come in all shapes and sizes—but where did the word PEZ come from? The popular candy’s name is the product of wordplay involving...

Talk Out the Side of Your Neck

A Twitter beef between Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa has a listener wondering about the phrase talk out the side of one’s neck, meaning to “talk trash about someone.” It’s simply a variation of talking out of the side of...

Crazy Crossword Clues

Should youngsters learn cursive handwriting in school? Plus, someone can be ruthless, but can that same person be ruthful? Which word refers to something larger, humongous or gargantuan? Also, funny newspaper corrections, a crossword quiz, Texas...

Double Talk

Double-talk, or doublespeak, is a form of gibberish that involves adding ib or other syllables to existing words. This sort of wordplay has been used among criminals using double-talk to communicate on the sly. This is part of a complete episode.