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Episode 1587

Herd of Turtles

Some college students are using the word loyalty as a synonym for monogamy. Are the meanings of these words now shifting? Plus, a biologist discovers a new species of bat, then names it after a poet he admires. Also, warm memories of how a childhood...

Episode 1585

Diamond Dust

Diamond dust, tapioca snow, and sugar icebergs — a 1955 glossary of arctic and subarctic terms describes the environment in ways that sound poetic. And a mom says her son is dating someone who’s non-binary. She supports their relationship, but...

Episode 1599

What in Tarnation

Language is always evolving, and that’s also true for American Sign Language. A century ago, the sign for “telephone” was one fist below your mouth and the other at your ear, as if you’re holding an old-fashioned candlestick...

Tarnation, Gumption, and Brogans

Lanessa in San Antonio, Texas, remembers once when her Tennessee-born grandmother saw her grandfather coming home from work and tromping into her pristine kitchen: “What in the tarnation? You don’t have any gumption! Don’t come...

A Better Word for “Deplaning”?

A flight attendant from Concord, North Carolina, is irritated by a word she must use often in her work: deplane, meaning “to leave an aircraft.” She knows this verb is effective and efficient, but she says that to her it seems inelegant...

When Your Car is “the Machine”

Matthew in Cincinnati, Ohio, says his grandfather used to refer to his car as the machine. Around the turn of the 20th century, it wasn’t uncommon to apply the term machine to automobiles. This is part of a complete episode.