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Episode 1603

If Grandma Had Wheels

While compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, lexicographer James Murray exchanged hundreds of letters a week with authors, advisors, and volunteer researchers. A new collection online lets you eavesdrop on discussions about which words should be...

Episode 1568

Lasagna Hog

Understanding the varieties of conversational styles can mean the difference between feeling you’re understood and being insulted. “High-involvement” speakers interrupt or talk along with someone else to signal their enthusiasm...

Lean on Your Own Dinner

Sam from Abilene, Texas, wonders about the phrase lean on your own dinner, which can be used literally to mean “support your own weight rather than leaning against me,” or metaphorically, as in suggesting someone refrain from asking...

Episode 1533

Life of Riley

Unwrap the name of a candy bar, and you just might find a story inside. For instance, one chewy treat found in many a checkout lane is named after a family’s beloved horse. And: 50 years ago in the United States, some Latino elementary...

Sal, Salary, Salarium

The Latin word sal, or “salt,” inspired the word salarium, the pay soldiers received to buy salt. This in turn led to the English word salary. Well into the 17th century, salt remained a valuable commodity, but today if you’re not...