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Lb. Abbreviation

Why is the word pound abbreviated lb.? A listener from Tijuana, Mexico, learns that the answer relates to his native Spanish as well as the Latin term for “weighing.” This is part of a complete episode.

Prefix “Hella”

Whether it’s bytes of data or intergalactic distances, humans are accumulating ever more massive amounts of data. But how do we use language to describe such mind-bogglingly huge numbers? There’s mega, as in mega-millions, and giga, as...

oil pulling

oil pulling  n.— «The procedure called “oil pulling” may help for edema. It consists of rinsing the mouth with one tablespoon of natural oil for 15-20 minutes and then spitting the oil out. It is done in the morning before...

Etymology of Measure Fathom

“Full fathom five thy father lies…” When the Bard wrote these immortal words, he was talking about the word fathom as a measure of distance. But a Chicago caller can’t quite fathom the meaning of the verb “to fathom...

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