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Words of the Decade

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Enough about the Word of the Year. How about the Word of the Decade? Bailout? Google? Martha and Grant discuss some candidates. Also in this episode, does speaking a different language make you feel different emotions? What did Don Draper on Mad Men mean when he called Betty a “Main Line brat”? And why do we talk about “throwing someone under the bus”? This episode first aired December 19, 2009.

Word of the Decade Candidates

 Enough about the Word of the Year. How about the Word of the Decade? Bailout? Google? Martha and Grant discuss some candidates.

Mind Your P’s and Q’s

 Where’d we get the expression “mind your p’s and q’s”? A Barcelona native wants help understanding exactly what it means, and shares a few other English idioms that caught her up short.

Main Line Brat

 A die-hard fan of television’s Mad Men is puzzled when Don calls Betty a “Main Line brat.”

Dracula Sneeze

 Grant’s been collecting contenders for 2009’s Word of the Year, including Dracula sneeze, Government Motors, and… unumbium?

Events of the Year in Limericks

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski sums up the events of 2009 in the form of limericks, all with a blank to be filled. Here’s one:

NASA really put on a great show
A new lunar crater did blow
To the glee of mankind
The rocket did find
That the moon contains much __________.

Gee and Haw

 A dogsledder in Vermont wonders why he and his fellow mushers direct their furry packs by shouting gee for “right” and haw for “left.”

A Case Quarter

 If you ask a salesclerk for change in the form of a case quarter, what are you asking for?


 An upstate New York woman says her British husband makes fun of her for saying lookit!

Language Influencing Emotions

 Does speaking a particular language make you feel certain emotions? The hosts talk about a blog post by evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson musing about whether this might be true.

Male and Female Guys

 A woman from Indianapolis is trying to convince her grandmother that it’s okay for restaurant servers to refer to both male and female customers as you guys. Grandma says it’s sexist. Our caller maintains it’s fine, drawing an analogy with Spanish, where the masculine pronoun ellos encompasses both sexes.

Thrown Under the Bus

 Why do we describe the sudden abandonment of someone as “throwing him under the bus”?


 A Dallas man says his grandmother used to carry around washcloth a plastic bag in her purse. When he and his siblings would get their hands dirty, she’d say to them, “Show me your paddywackers,” and they’d hold out their hands to be wiped clean. He wonders if she made up the word paddywhacker.

Drive Like a Cullen

 Two more expressions that characterized 2009: El Stiffo and “drive like a Cullen.”

This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.

Photo by John Joh. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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