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Da Vinci Riddle

In Leonardo da Vinci, biographer Walter Isaacson notes that da Vinci was fond of riddles, including this one: Winged creatures will support people with their feathers. This is part of a complete episode.

Episode 1542

Baby Blues

A hundred years ago, suffragists lobbied to win women the right to vote. Linguistically speaking, though, suffrage isn’t about “suffering.” It’s from a Latin word that involves voting. Plus: military cadences often include...

Episode 1537

Bug in Your Ear

Is there something inherent in English that makes it the linguistic equivalent of the Borg, dominating and consuming other languages in its path? No, not at all. The answer lies with politics and conquest rather than language itself. Plus: a new...

Hanging Around a Barbershop

Thomas in Bahama, North Carolina, says his father used to say “You can’t hang around the barbershop and not get your haircut,” which seems to be a warning about being influenced by the company you keep. Similar ideas are expressed...

Jackpot Origin

The word jackpot can denote the pile of money you win at a game of poker, but another definition is that of trouble, tangled mess, or a literal logjam. This is part of a complete episode.