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Sundog Origins

Eleven-year-old Ben calls from Rapids City to ask about the term sundog, the meteorological phenomenon in which a bright spot appears to the left or right of the sun. No one knows the origin of this term. Synonyms include mock sun, weather gall, and...

Sugar Weather

Sugar weather refers to a period of time during the spring in Canada marked by warm days and cold nights, when the sap starts running in the trees. This is part of a complete episode.

Episode 1430

Fighting Artichokes

What’s in a mascot name? Maybe you’re a fan of the Banana Slugs, or you cheer for the Winged Beavers. Perhaps your loyalty lies with the Fighting Artichokes. There are some strange names for sports team out there. But what’s even...

Hot Dog, Cold Turkey

Why do we call a frankfurter a hot dog? It seems an unsettling 19th-century rumor is to blame. Also, if someone quits something abruptly, why do we say they quit cold turkey? This term’s roots may lie in the history of boxing. Plus, a...

Skedaddle

The months of September, October, November, and December take their names from Latin words meaning “seven,” “eight,” “nine,” and “ten.” So why don’t their names correspond to where they fall in...

Episode 1455

Sunny-Side Up

Baseball has a language all its own: On the diamond, a snow cone isn’t what you think it is, and three blind mice has nothing to do with nursery rhymes. And how do you describe someone who works at home while employed by a company in another...