Home » Episodes » Zig-Zag and Shilly-Shally

Zig-Zag and Shilly-Shally

Play episode

Bavarian Chalet. Mushroom Basket. Moose Point. Who in the heck comes up with the names of paints, anyway? Martha and Grant ponder that mystery. They also explain why those annoying emails go by the name spam. And Grant explains the difference between being “adorbs” and “bobo.” This episode first aired October 24, 2009.

Wacky Names for Colors

 Bavarian Chalet. Mushroom Basket. Moose Point. Who in the heck comes up with the names of paint, anyway? Must be the same people who get paid to give names like Love Child, Sellout, and Apocalypse to shades of lipstick. Martha and Grant discuss wacky color names.

Rhyming Jingles

 Hurly-burly, helter-skelter, zigzag, shilly-shally— the hosts dish out some claptrap about words like these, otherwise known as reduplications or rhyming jingles.

Naked as a Needle

 If someone’s naked as a needle, just how naked are they? Why “needle”?

Creative Lipstick Shades

 Grant and Martha discuss more goofy names for lipstick. Mauvelous Memories, anyone?

Deletion Flat Word Game

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s latest puzzle requires players to guess the last word in a two-line verse. For example: “He’s seven feet tall and big as a tank, The meanest Marine that you’ve ever BLANK.” (Stumped? Take a letter out of “seven.”)

Best Practice with Dashes

 An Episcopal priest in Toledo worries that her sermons are cluttered with dashes. This works just fine when she’s preaching, but when the same text appears on her church’s website, it looks like a messy tangle of words and punctuation. The hosts discuss the differences between text written for oral delivery, and text written to be read silently.

Email Spam

 Why is that annoying stuff in your email box called spam? Grant has the answer. Here’s the Monty Python skit that inspired it.

The First First Annual

 Can a first-time event ever be called “The First Annual” Such-and-Such? Members of a Cedar Rapids group planning a social mixer disagree.

Adorbs vs. Bobo

 Is that snazzy new car adorbs or bobo? Grant talks about adorbs, bobo, and a few other slang terms collected by Professor Connie Eble of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Etymology of Gringo

 Theories about how Latin Americans came to use the term gringo as a disparaging word for foreigners. We can easily rule out the one about the song “Green Grow the Lilacs,” but what about the rest?

Punctuating “However”

 An insurance fraud investigator in Milwaukee wonders if he’s correct to use a semicolon immediately after the word “however.” Grant suggests that the word and the punctuation mark should do a do-si-do.

Between vs. Among

 Many of us learned the rule about using the preposition between when talking about two items, but among when talking about more than two. In reality, though, the rule is a little more complicated.

Busier than a Cranberry Merchant

 Someone who’s extremely busy may be said to be “busier than a cranberry merchant.” What is it that keeps cranberry merchants so busy, anyway?

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

Photo by Liz West. Used under a Creative Commons license.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from this show

Cool Beans

If you speak a second or third language, you may remember the first time you dreamed in that new tongue. But does this milestone mean...

Love Bites

The word filibuster has a long and colorful history, going back to the days when pirates roamed the high seas. Today it refers to hijacking...