The word podcast is a portmanteau


Today we have a French word that has made its way into the English vernacular. It is

A portmanteau is a word that is formed by combining two words and their meanings. For example podcast is a portmanteau. It is the combination of the words iPod & broadcast.

Other well know portmanteau’s are camcorder- camera and recorder, smog- smoke and fog and spork– spoon and fork. The Chunnel is an example of portmanteau that is a proper name.


For today’s word we turn to a special guest Brian, host and producer of
Coverville. Given that clue I bet you can guess today’s word is cover. Let’s skip the common definition and go straight to the podcast community’s resident expert on covers.

Brian’s definition:
Any song that was performed and released by one artist or group, and then was subsequently released or performed and recorded by another artist or group. I also include a song that was released by the same artist, but performed with a different arrangement or style.

Yes, the song Happy Birthday is is protected by copyright.

If you are interested in recording cover songs check out’s article.

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This podcast is by a virgo but it is not a disaster

I must apologize for an oversight in my January 24th podcast. Fortunately Amy of pointed it out to me. It is pun or play on words. In Contentious Amy writes mainly about issues of content and communication. Hence, her own neologism: contentious meaning full of or related to content. I feel pretty foolish that I didn’t spot that one.

Also, I wanted to mention Amy is podcasting from Boulder, Colorado, my hometown. Which I think is home to several other podcasters:

Today’s word is totally unrelated. It is a word we all know and despise but its etymology is very interesting. The word is disaster. A noun meaning a total failure or a catastrophe.

Now the etymology was pointed out to me by one of my favorite authors Neal Stephenson. He mentions the etymology in the book Snow Crash. Disaster could almost be literal translated from the latin or greek as bad star. The dis- part can mean wrong or not as in disease or disappear. And the -aster part means star as in astronaut, aster (the flower) or more appropriate for today’s word astrology– the “study” of the stars. I presume this word has migrated over the centuries from “bad sign” or “bad luck” to its current definition.

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This podcasting is orthogonal to cooking bacon

Orthogonal, now this is a word I have owed you for awhile.

I have been trying to formulate a complete description of this word, but I have failed so I can only give you the lay definition. Orthogonal is an adjective that describes independent, unrelated variables or elements. For example “I know this is orthogonal to the discussion but…”

Now there are several other meanings and used of orthogonal most notably in mathematics and computer programing. I don’t have the expertise to expound on these so I have posted some links for more thorough definitions.

Butterflies can be psychosomatic when they are in your stomach- a podcast


Today’s word, psychosomatic, is a suggestion posted at In fact the poster, Tim, was kind enough to include the definition too.

It is an adjective of or relating to a disorder having physical symptoms but originating from mental or emotional causes. Or relating to or concerned with the influence of the mind on the body, and the body on the mind.

I want to point out psychosomatic is not the same as hypocondria. A hypochondriac is someone who thinks they are ill. A psychosomatic is someone who is sick and the cause is mental such as stress. Butterflies in your stomach is a perfect example of a psychosomatic symptom and a good example of an idiom too.

Not a very contentious podcast about apophenia


Let’s start off with a comment from Amy Gahran regarding last week’s podcast on apophenia. For those of you reading this post. Sorry you get the bulleted summary:

Be sure to check out Amy’s blog and subscribe to her podcast at

So today’s word is contentious. It is an adjective that describes someone or something that is likely to cause an argument. Often a tired or pointless argument. Reading through Amy’s blog and listening to her podcasts I don’t think Amy’s arguments are tired or pointless.

Be sure to check out here site at or at

I doubt there are any indigent podcasters. Perhaps we can help the indigent.


Dawn and Drew have inspired another word for today’s podcast. This one is from their January 21st podcast. The word is indigent. It is an adjective meaning extremely poor or impoverished. An indigent person lacks even the basic comforts of life.

I recently read the word in reference to the U.S. hospital industry. They have been writing off their care for the indigent off as charity work. Which would be fine except first they try to collect the money then if they can’t they decided, “Oh, wait that is charity work.” Fortunately this practice is coming under increasing legal scrutiny.

If you would like to help the indigent check out for a list of well rated charities.

Podcasting on thin ice

Today’s word is idiom. It is an expression that cannot be understood or translated literally.

For example in english we have the saying “skating on thin ice,” which means in danger- as though someone is ice skating on ice that could break at any minute.

I was reminded of this great word by fellow podcaster Nicole Simon of She turned me onto a great podcast that I think you will like- The Daily Idiom– “Idiom and slang lessons for learners of English.”

I really enjoy doing Today’s Podcast but I am jealous I didn’t think of doing Today’s Idiom.

UPDATE: Here is a great site for looking up all kinds of English idioms-

If you don’t podcast this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.


Today we have another quote from Warren Miller, the king of ski movies.

“If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”

Warren shares this observation in almost everyone of his movies. It might be his motto.

I was reminded of it last night when my friend and I did something we don’t do enough. We went moonlight snowboarding. It was wonderfully quiet and empty. With the bright moon and the white snow the visibility is excellent. Snowboarding is an activity I usually do in the day time so doing it at night is surreal. Everything is familiar except the context is wrong.

What should you do this year instead of next?

There is nothing to be learned from the second kick of a mule, even in podcasting



Today’s quote is an old axiom about learning lessons the first time

There is nothing to be learned from the second kick of a mule.

The idea being there is some value in the first kick or mistake. But getting kicked a second time or making the same mistake twice is foolish and offers nothing that you couldn’t have learned from the first time you got kicked or made the mistake.

The quote was recently used by Dick Armey in an Op-Ed piece in USA Today. I like the saying but I don’t think it is an appropriate lead-in for Armey’s argument for a flat income tax. [The USA Today article is no longer available online. –Scott Sunday, February 1, 2009]