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Episode 1529

At First Blush

Book recommendations and the art of apology. Martha and Grant share some good reads, including an opinionated romp through English grammar, a Spanish-language adventure novel, an account of 19th-century dictionary wars, and a gorgeously illustrated...

Daddle

Daddle is an archaic term for “hand” or “fist,” and tip us your daddle is an invitation to shake hands. This is part of a complete episode.

Episode 1526

Abso-Bloomin-Lutely

The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also, suppose you could invite any two authors, living or dead, to dinner. Who’s on your guest list and...

Sailing Slang and Jargon

After hanging out with San Diego sailing enthusiasts, Martha picked up several bits of slang and jargon. Catenary describes the desirable curve of an anchor chain, from Latin catena, meaning “chain.” A chain that is not pulled up...

Xiphoid Process

Kim from Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada, is studying anatomy and wonders why the lower end of one’s sternum is called the xiphoid process. The word process in this case means projection, and xiphoid comes from the Greek word for sword...

A Gazelle in the Garden

“There’s a gazelle on the lawn,” meaning you have schmutz on your face, is a fun way to tip someone off to wipe their chin. The expression actually comes to us from Arabic, where the expression “there’s a gazelle in the...