The Allusionist

Helen Zaltzman

Linguistic adventures with Helen Zaltzman, A proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. Learn more at


Why is gaslighting ‘gaslighting’? What do bodily fluids have to do with personality traits? Why does ‘cataract’ mean a waterfall and an eye condition? And do doctors really say ‘Stat!’ or is that just in ER? To round off 2016, here’s the bonus edition of The Allusionist, featuring listeners’ etymology requests and extra material from guests who’ve appeared on the show this year. For links and more information about the episode, visit The show will return in early February. Meanwhile, catch up on the back catalogue at, and stay in touch at and The Allusionist is a proud member of from