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Looks Like They Stepped Out Of A Bandbox

Susan from Cocker City, Kansas, says her mother used to describe someone who appeared impeccably dressed with the phrase She looked like she stepped out of a bandbox. In the 17th century, the word band could denote a garment collar, sometimes...

Detective Gumshoes is Sneaky

Why are detectives in old movies and mystery novels called gumshoes? The term gumshoe derives from the image of shoes with soles made of gum rubber, which offered an improvement over the wood traditionally used for the bottom of a shoe, since those...

Dashboards, From Wagons to Digital Screens

Gerald from Gaspee Point, Rhode Island, wants to know the story behind the term dashboard. Originally a dashboard was wood or leather placed at the front in horse-drawn vehicles to keep the driver and passengers from being dashed with mud, water, or...

Xylyl Meaning and Origins

Olivia, a sixth-grader in Somerville, New Jersey, says she and her classmates were flummoxed by a word on their spelling-bee study list: xylyl. It’s a term from chemistry, referring to a group of atoms derived from a liquid called xylene. One...

Misunderstood TV Show Brain Game

Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s puzzle features intentional misunderstandings of the names of familiar movies and TV shows. For example, if John refers to a creepy Netflix show set in the 1980s called More Unusual Objects, what’s the program he...

Wood Penguin

Twitter user @crookedroads770 observed that his two-year-old son referred to an owl as a wood penguin. This is part of a complete episode.