What do you call a gift that turns into a hassle, like a gift card for a store not in your area, or one with a pressing expiration date? A New York caller suggests the term gaft. Another possibility is white elephant, a term derived from the story of a king in ancient Siam, who punished unruly subjects with the gift of a rare white elephant. The recipient couldn’t possibly refuse the present but the elephant’s upkeep became extremely costly. This is part of a complete episode.
- Space Cadet (episode #1514) 12/24/2018: We have books for language-lovers and recommendations for history buffs. • How did the word boondoggle come to denote a wasteful project? The answer involves... [more]
- Howling Fantods (episode #1513) 12/17/2018: Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing drug-laced dollar bills,... [more]
- Cootie Shot (episode #1510) 12/10/2018: Perfect sentences and slang that tickles your mind! A new book of writing advice says a good sentence "imposes a logic on the world's weirdness"... [more]
- Bottled Sunshine (episode #1512) 11/19/2018: 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... [more]
- Care Package (episode #1511) 11/12/2018: Sending someone a care package shows you care, of course. But the first care packages were boxes of food and personal items for survivors of... [more]