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Episode 1601

Funny Papers

There are word nerds, and then there’s the woman who set up a folding chair on sidewalks throughout the country, cheerfully dispensing tips about grammar. She recounts her adventures in a new book. And the story of the brilliant pioneer of...

See You in the Funny Papers

Crystal in Huntsville, Alabama, wonders about the expression See you in the funny papers, which her in-laws use when tucking the grandkids into bed. See you in the funny papers, See you in the funny pages, See you in the funnies, and See you in the...

Episode 1581

Your Imaginary Boyfriend

We use the term Milky Way for that glowing arc across the sky. But how people picture it varies from culture to culture. In Sweden, that starry band goes by a name that means “Winter Street,” and in Hawaii, a term for the Milky Way...

Episode 1580

Beefed It

The words tough, through, and dough all end in O-U-G-H. So why don’t they rhyme? A lively new book addresses the many quirks of English by explaining the history of words and phrases. And: have you ever been in a situation where a group makes...

Episode 1598

Blue Streak

How long can a newly married woman be called a bride? Does bride apply only as long as her wedding day, or does it extend right on through the couple’s silver anniversary and beyond? Plus, insightful advice about writing from a Pulitzer...

A Blue Million

Ian in Clyde, North Carolina, is puzzled when a colleague uses the term blue million, meaning “a large amount.” Along with words like zillion and gazillion, this expression functions as an indefinite hyperbolic numeral. Sometimes the...