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Biffy Outhouse Origin

A Tuscon, Arizona, listener is right to be skeptical when someone suggests to her that the term biffy, meaning “portable toilet,” is an acronym for Bathroom in Forest for You. The etymology of biffy has eluded researchers for years...

Kissed Her on the Stairs

Do Americans use the same sign language as the British? And what do Japanese people use instead of umm? Plus, why do we vote at polling places? What goes into file 13? All this, a word quiz, commode vs. toilet, saditty and bougie, and cute stuff...

Toot and Toodle in a Tube

Welcome to another newsletter from "A Way with Words"! Where the heck have we been? Working on a brand-new season, that's where. It starts this coming weekend. That's right--brand-new episodes, chock full of...

Spend a Penny

You might have heard Brits say “I’m going to spend a penny” when they have to visit the loo. The hosts discuss the reason for this phrase, and other euphemisms for making a trip to the toilet, such as “I’m going to...

shit up

shit up  n.— «Assaults, when they happened, were generally of a relatively minor nature in comparison: grabbed arms perhaps, a shoulder-barge, the occasional slap, kick—or a favourite with the subversive prisoner, a “shit up,”...

zafu

zafu  n.— «The bathroom is our meditation place. It acts as a Dojo (Japanese word for the place where Zen meditation is done) and the toilet is our Zafu (Japanese for the black cotton cushion used in Zen meditation).» —“Living Room...