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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...

Episode 1512

Bottled Sunshine

If you catch your blue jeans on a nail, you may find yourself with a winklehawk. This term, adapted into English from Dutch, means “an L-shaped tear in a piece of fabric.” And: What’s your relationship with the books on your...

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...

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...

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.