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Today’s Word: Ostrobogulous

Many of you wrote to say how much you enjoyed this week’s show about weird words. One of my favorites: ostrobogulous. The OED says it desribes “something that is slightly risqué or indecent.” It adds that ostrobogulous can be “applied arbitrarily to things which are bizarre, interesting, or unusual in some other way.” I learned more…

If You Like Piña Coladas, And Gettin’ Caught in …

Speaking of what you call it when it rains while the sun’s still shining, doesn’t it make your day to know that some folks refer to this phenomenon as pineapple rain? Made my day, anyway. Elsewhere in the U.S., people say the wolf is giving birth or the devil is beating his wife. To see more…

Talk About Your Wedding Showers!

That torrential rain we were supposed to get never quite materialized. As the afternoon turned beautiful, though, I was reminded of the South African term for when the sun is shining while it’s still raining: monkey’s wedding. It may be adapted from the Portuguese term for same, which translates as “vixen’s wedding,” or a Zulu more…

Today’s Word: Stilliform

Lots of talk here in sunny San Diego about heavy rain on the way. I’m reminded of one of the most beautiful words in the English language: stilliform, or “drop-shaped.” It’s from Latin stilla, “drop,” and a relative of the drippy words distill (to “drip down”) and instill, “to put in drop by drop” — more…

El Programa de Los Mas GEEK del Mundo

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Thanks, Monica!

Life is Just A Bowl of Back-Formations

As I said, strictly speaking, the word kudos, or “glory,” is singular. Over time, those unfamiliar with its Greek root mistook it for a plural, leading to what’s called a “back-formation”– in this case, kudo. Kudo may raise some folks’ linguistic hackles, but two other respectable words arose this way. In Middle English, pease (as more…

Why I Didn’t Say “A Big Kudo to Our Quizzicist”

The reason I didn’t offer a great big kudo to our deserving Quizzicist is this: Not long ago, there was no such thing as a kudo. Our word kudos was lifted directly from Greek, where kudos means “magical glory.” Later, English speakers sometimes mistook kudos as a plural, forming kudo as the singular. These days more…

Kudos to Our Quizzicist

Permit me to kvell about “A Way with Words” Quizzicist Greg Pliska. (If you caught last week’s show about Shakespeare, you’ll recall Greg’s funny puzzle about the Bard’s lesser-known rival, William Snakespeare.) Besides being a clever quiz concoctor, Greg’s also a musician and conductor who does musical arranging for the highly regarded band, HEM. Last more…

Today’s Word: Quincunx

You knew there had to be a word for the pattern of five objects arranged like the dots on the “5” side on dice, didn’t you? It’s quincunx (KWIN-kunks), from the Latin for “five-twelfths.” As crossword fanatics know, an as was a coin of ancient Rome. Another Roman coin, the quincunx, was worth five-twelfths that more…

Bursting Into Tears Yet?

Recently a listener described rushing through the Louvre to meet a friend, when out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a painting. She stopped dead in her tracks, slowly turned to face it, and promptly burst into tears. Thirty years later, she was wondering if there’s a term for that. So more…