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What Do You Call Your Junk Drawer?

Nell in Madison, Wisconsin, says her family always had a drawer where they kept birthday candles, odd keys, matches, pencils, random batteries. They called it the mystery drawer. Some people call it a junk drawer or the work drawer. The term mystery...

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...

Bumpity-Scrapples

A Wisconsin listener’s family adopts their youngster’s made-up term for the treads on a boot. Years later, they all still refer to those things as bumpity-scrapples. This is part of a complete episode.

Episode 1547

Cabin Fever

The adjectives canine and feline refer to dogs and cats. But how does English address other groups of animals? Plus, cabin fever has been around much longer than the current pandemic. That restless, antsy, stir-crazy feeling goes back to the days...

More About “Sisu”

After our conversation about sisu, the distinctively Finnish term for “intestinal fortitude,” a listener of Finnish heritage from northern Wisconsin emails to illustrate the Finns’ understanding the word. Sisu, he says, requires...