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All Verklempt

Of all the letters in the alphabet, which two or three are your favorites? If your short list includes one or more of your initials, that’s no accident. Psychological research shows we’re drawn to the letters in our name. • If you doubt...

Vinegar Mother

A woman in Cheyenne, Wyoming, says her mom used to refer to the cloudy scum that sometimes forms atop vinegar as mother. The term has been around at least 500 years, and can refer to the scum on the top or sediment on the bottom. It’s also...

A Different Julep

The word julep, from Persian terms meaning “rose water,” usually refers to a mint-and-bourbon alcoholic beverage with a kick as strong as a Kentucky Derby winner. But one family from North Carolina has a sauce they call julep: a half...

Miracle-Potion Pitch

Looking for something that curls your hair, cleans your teeth, and makes childbirth a pleasure? A listener’s mother used that saying in reference to every miracle potion from WD-40 to vinegar. Grant explains that the first known version of...

Acetabulum

A dental student wonders about acetabulum, the anatomical term for the hip socket. Martha traces it back to the Latin word for “vinegar cup.” In ancient Rome, households had a vinegar cup on the dinner table for dipping bits of food. The...