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A Sign for Driving Apologies

We’re still on the hunt for the safest, most efficient way to apologize to another driver when you accidentally cut them off in traffic or otherwise inconvenience them. A listener shares an intriguing solution. This is part of a complete...

Episode 1542

Baby Blues

A hundred years ago, suffragists lobbied to win women the right to vote. Linguistically speaking, though, suffrage isn’t about “suffering.” It’s from a Latin word that involves voting. Plus: military cadences often include...

Traffic Neckdown

Like Bott’s dots and cat’s eyes, the word neckdown comes from the language of traffic flow regulation. A neckdown is an extension of a curb that widens the path for pedestrians and slows moving vehicles. Also called curb extensions, bulb...

Thickly Settled

Marisa in Bellingham, Washington, was puzzled by a traffic sign in Massachusetts that read “Thickly Settled.” As far back as the 1830s, the term thickly settled was used in the Massachusetts legal code to refer to an area with a lot of...

Episode 1442

Whistle Pig

The dated term “jingoism” denotes a kind of belligerent nationalism but the word’s roots lie in an old English drinking-house song that was popular during wartime. Speaking of fightin’ words, the expression “out the side of...

The Bridge is Open but Closed

Chelsea says that after moving from the Midwest to Norfolk, Virginia, she was confused by traffic reports indicating that a local bridge was open. Turns out the bridge is a drawbridge, and by open, the announcers were saying that the bridge was...