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On their weekly podcast, Butter No Parsnips, hosts Emily Moyers and Kyle Imperatore explore the etymology of words you’ve probably never heard of. For those of us who like to play with language, Butter No Parsnips is a fun way to spend a half hour each week. The title comes from an old proverb, “fine words butter no parsnips.” In other words, just as putting butter on parsnips (a root vegetable that is somewhat like a carrot) makes them no more appetizing, dressing up a bad situation with good words doesn’t either.

Moyers and Imperatore take turns each week uncovering a word and diving deeply into where the word comes from, how it has been used and often tell fascinating stories behind how it has been used in the past. While they occasionally have guests such as the president of the Apostrophe Protection Society or a psycholinguist who talks about language acquisition, the main course of this podcast is the conversation the two hosts have with each other as they have fun with words.

And fun is the operative word here. Because the words presented each week are so obscure, like “macadam,” “cumshaw,” and “jactitation,” this podcast is not a way to build your useful vocabulary, but that in itself is part of the fun of Butter No Parsnips.

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