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What did you say? Weird words and phrases explained

In 2008, the American Dialect Society voted the "recombobulation area" in the Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee as the most creative word of the year.
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In 2008, the American Dialect Society voted the "recombobulation area" in the Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee as the most creative word of the year.

Are there words in your vocabulary that make you wonder how they got there? We posed that question on social media and asked our listeners what strange words and phrases they would like to know the origin of.

Luckily for us, University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan was nearby to help. She studies linguistics and the history of the English language and is the host of That's What They Say.

Some of the submissions from our listeners include cattywampus, kitty corner, the whole nine yards and more. Some of our listeners have gone through the award-winning "recombobulation area" in Milwaukee
Listen to the full interview above to hear about the origins of these weird words and phrases and share some of your favorites in the comments below.
 

GUEST
Anne Curzan is a professor of English at the University of Michigan. She also co-host's That's What They Say on Michigan Radio

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