On wordorigins.org, etymologist Dave Wilton is going through the Oxford English Dictionary year by year to find the earliest citations for various words, which offer an unusual linguistic glimpse into that particular year. The year 1937, for example, is the first in which we see the terms “four-by-four,” “cliffhanger,” and “iffy.” This is part of a complete episode.
- 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]
- Ding-Ding Man (episode #1509) 10/29/2018: In 1803, a shy British pharmacist wrote a pamphlet that made him a reluctant celebrity. The reason? He proposed a revolutionary new system for classifying... [more]
- Take Tea for the Fever (episode #1508) 10/22/2018: Silence comes in many forms. Writer Paul Goodman says there is, for example, the noisy silence of "resentment and self-recrimination," and the helpful, participatory silence... [more]
- Sundog (episode #1507) 10/15/2018: A clever pun can make the difference between a so-so phrase and a memorable one. The phrase "the last straw" refers to an old fable... [more]
- Oh, For Cute! (episode #1506) 10/08/2018: A stereotype is a preconceived notion about a person or group. Originally, though, the word stereotype referred to a printing device used to produce lots... [more]