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Episode 1515

Colonial English

The anatomy of effective prose, and the poetry of anatomy. Ever wonder what it’d be like to audit a class taught by a famous writer? A graduate student’s essay offers a taste of a semester studying with author Annie Dillard. Also, what...

Episode 1504

Up Your Alley

Book recommendations, including a collection of short stories inspired by dictionaries, and a techno-thriller for teens. Or, how about novels with an upbeat message? Publishers call this genre up lit. Plus, a clergyman ponders an arresting phrase in...

Bad Vice and Vice President

Vice is a noun meaning bad behavior, but it’s also an adjective referring to an official who is second in command. Karen, a seventh- and eighth-grade history teacher in Waco, Texas, says her students wonder why. These two senses of vice come...

Gump Stump

Chandler from Chesapeake, Virginia, wonder about a term her in-laws use to mean in abundance, as in “We have strawberries up the gump stump.” The expression seems to have evolved from an earlier phrase possum up a gum tree or possum up a...

Put on the Dog

Why isn’t “you’re welcome” the default response to “thank you” for everyone? Plus lies that kids tell, Philadelphia lawyer, cowbelly, skutch, mind-bottling vs. mind-boggling, tsundoku, infanticipating, noisy piece...