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Episode 1586

Mittens in Moonlight

Need a slang term that can replace just about any noun? Try chumpie. If you’re from Philadelphia, you may already know this handy placeholder word. And there’s Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, and … The Bronx — why do we add...

Episode 1579

Forty-Eleven Zillion

When there’s no evening meal planned at home, what do you call that scramble to cobble together your own dinner? Some people apply acronyms like YOYO — “you’re on your own” — or CORN, for “Clean Out your Refrigerator...

Cornswoggled and Hornswoggled

Margaret from Dallas, Texas, wonders about a word that both her grandfather and mother use: cornswoggled. It means “confused.” Cornswoggled is a variation of hornswoggled or hornswaggled, which originally meant “to be...

Episode 1549

Navel-Gazing

In 1971, when a new public library opened in Troy, Michigan, famous authors and artists were invited to write letters to the city’s youngest readers, extolling the many benefits of libraries. One of the loveliest was from E.B. White, author of...

If a Bullfrog Had Wings

Mitchell from Arlington, Texas, wonders about his father’s expression: If a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his butt. It’s been around since at least the early 1900s, and is a variation on an older expression, If pigs had...