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Re in Email Subject Lines

Re: in an email subject line means “regarding” or “with reference to,” but it’s not an abbreviation for either one of those things. It comes from a form of the Latin word res meaning “matter” or “thing...

Whistle Britches

Writers and where they do their best creative work. A new book on Geoffrey Chaucer describes the dark, cramped, smelly room where he wrote his early work. Which raises the question: What kind of space do you need to produce your best writing...

Guess What

English is full of unusual terms, both old (eleemosynary, favonian) and new (flyaway, catio). Also, the Swahili term that means “sleep like a log,” the multiple meanings of the word joint, cowpies and horse biscuits, what it means to...

Lunatic Fringe

In this week’s episode, “It was bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Martha and Grant discuss their favorite first lines from novels. Also this week, palmer-housing, beanplating, meeting cute, bad...