In a grassy Vermont field as a horse skitters in the distance, dancer Chatch Pregger is scaling a makeshift barn. He stretches his arms outward, holding an E for East in his hand. As the chicken feathers on his head flutter in the breeze, it's easy indeed to imagine him as a graceful weathervane rooster.
Just about a century ago, an international student at a college in the United States was telling someone what she likes best about the English language: American slang. "I must learn it," she said. "It is so unexpected."
For example, she was surprised to learn — according to a November 1916 edition of the Delta Delta Delta sorority publication, the Trident -- that "brick" was the masculine equivalent of "peach" because the former was a "term of approval" for a man and the latter was a term of approval for a woman.
Who needs an app that tells you if it's dark outside? Apparently, somebody does: it is a real thing that exists (no, we can't believe it either). In this quiz, we'll find out about other apps that are too weird to be true, and some others that we made up just for fun.
An eponym is something that is named for a person. In this game, we pretend that some everyday words could be etymologically traced to a famous namesake. What kind of fuel might be named for the bald star of The Fast and the Furious franchise?
Growing up, Sir Patrick Stewart never dreamed of being a knight. "I just dreamed [that] there was some food for the next meal," he told Ophira Eisenberg on the Ask Me Another stage in Brooklyn. As a boy, Stewart's heroes were distinguished thespians — Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Alec Guinness and Sir John Clements. But recently, Stewart's friend Sir Ian McKellan pointed out to him, "You know, Patrick... those actors, those remote heroes, those gods we admired so much — it's now us!"
Science is more fun with some wordplay. In this game, we satisfy the science nerds and the word nerds with some clues to rhyming pairs of words. The catch? One of the words is a tricky scientific term — get ready for some "friction fiction"!
We would all love a simple weight-loss plan. Beyond carbs and fats, some studies have hinted that a key group of gut microbes — from the phylum Firmicutes — might be more common among people who are overweight.
Thinner people, these studies suggest, might have more bacteria from the phylum known as Bacteroidetes. Maybe we just need to reestablish a Bacteroidetes-favoring gut to more easily lose weight, some people have said. A stack of diet books has already jumped on the notion.