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The Pipes, the Pipes are Calling

Colin lives in Hollywood, California, where he’s a professional bagpipe player. But does he play the bagpipe or play the bagpipes? Either is correct, although most bagpipers use the plural form. Bagpipe music consists of a skirl, the...

Nidorosity

In case you need a word for a really meaty burp — and what nine-year-old doesn’t? — 18th-century lexicographer Samuel Johnson has you covered. In his 1755 dictionary, he defines nidorosity as “eructation with the taste of undigested...

Pree

In the Scots language, pree means “to taste” or “sample.” If you pree someone’s mouth, then you give them a kiss on the lips. It’s a variant of the word prove, and cognate with Spanish probar, to “taste...

Annie Dillard and the Writing Life

For a taste of what it’s like to spend a semester studying writing with a renowned author, check out Alexander Chee’s essay in The Morning News, “Annie Dillard and the Writing Life.” Dillard’s remarkable description of...

Coast is Clear

In the military, if you’ve lost the bubble, then you can’t find your bearings. The term first referred to calibrating the position of aircraft and submarines. • The phrase the coast is clear may originate in watching for invaders...