A Way with Words

Series produced by A Way with Words

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A Way with Words is a national, lively, hour-long public radio show about language, on the air since 1998. Author/journalist Martha Barnette and linguist/lexicographer Grant Barrett take listener calls about slang, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, and speaking and writing well. There are no carriage fees.

Learn more about the show, its hosts, and its history, and read station and listener testimonials on the A Way with Words website.


215 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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Our youngest listeners have questions about everything from love to one of their favorite foods. Kids ask why we might end a text with the letters ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KMXT, 90.1 WFYI Public Radio, KXCR and more


  • Added: Aug 30, 2017
  • Length: 29:45
  • Purchases: 8
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Restaurant jargon, military slang, and modern Greek turns of phrase. Some restaurants now advertise that they sell "clean" sandwiches. But that doe...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KXCR, KREV-LP, WSLR and more


  • Added: Sep 28, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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Where would you find a sports commentator talking about high cheese and ducks on a pond? Here's a hint: both terms are part of what make the langua...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KXCR, WSLR, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Oct 05, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
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A highly anticipated children's book and the epic history behind a familiar vegetable. Fans of illustrator Maurice Sendak are eagerly awaiting the ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KXCR, KREV-LP, WSLR and more


  • Added: Oct 13, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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Decisions by dictionary editors, wacky wordplay, and Walt Whitman's soaring verse.  How do lexicographers decide which historical figures deserve a...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KXCR, KREV-LP, WNJR and more


  • Added: Oct 19, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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Of all the letters in the alphabet, which two or three are your favorites? If your short list includes one or more of your initials, that's no acci...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, KXCR, WNJR and more


  • Added: Oct 26, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
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Some countries have strict laws about naming babies. New Zealand authorities, for example, denied a request to name some twins Fish and Chips.  Plu...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KXCR, WSLR, WNIN and more


  • Added: Nov 03, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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If you're not using a dictionary to look up puzzling words as you read them, you're missing out on a whole other level of enjoyment. Also, when you...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KXCR, KREV-LP, WSLR and more


  • Added: Nov 11, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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Civil War letters and the opposite of prejudice. A new online archive of Civil War letters offers a vivid portrait of the everyday lives of enliste...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KXCR, WSLR, KREV-LP and more


  • Added: Nov 16, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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In the military, if you've "lost the bubble," then you can't find your bearings. The term first referred to calibrating the position of aircraft an...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KXCR, KREV-LP, WSLR and more


  • Added: Nov 23, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
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The months of September, October, November, and December take their names from Latin words meaning "seven," "eight," "nine," and "ten." So why don'...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, KXCR, RadioFreePalmer, KREV-LP, WSLR and more


  • Added: Nov 30, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
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Books for word lovers, plus the stories behind some familiar terms. Want a gift for your favorite bibliophile? Martha and Grant have recommendation...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KXCR, WEJP-LP 107.1, WSLR and more


  • Added: Dec 07, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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Taking a look back at some notable words and phrases from 2017: Remember path of totality? How about "milkshake duck"? Also, a committee has to cho...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, WUFT, KXCR, WSLR and more


  • Added: Dec 14, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
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Why do we call a frankfurter a "hot dog"? It seems an unsettling 19th-century rumor is to blame. Also, if someone quits something abruptly, why do ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, WRIR, WUFT, KXCR and more


  • Added: Dec 21, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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What's the best way for someone busy to learn lots of new words quickly for a test like the GRE? Looking up their origins can help. Or record yours...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, WUFT, KXCR, WEJP-LP 107.1 and more


  • Added: Dec 27, 2017
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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Pranks, cranks, and chips. As a kid, you may have played that game where you phone someone to say, "Is your refrigerator running? Then you better g...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, KXCR, WEZU and more


  • Added: Jan 05, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
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This week it’s butterflies, belly flowers, plot bunnies, foxes, and cuckoos. Also, writing advice from Mark Twain and a wonderful bit of prose from...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, KXCR, WEJP-LP 107.1 and more


  • Added: Jan 10, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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New research shows that you may be less influenced by superstitious behavior like walking under ladders or the magic of four-leaf clovers if you're...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, KXCR, WSLR, WEJP-LP 107.1 and more


  • Added: Jan 18, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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How would you like to be welcomed to married life by friends and neighbors descending on your home for a noisy celebration, tearing off the labels ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, WEJP-LP 107.1, WSLR, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Jan 25, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
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Family words, and words about being in a family way. How many different ways ARE there to say you're have a baby on the way? Sure, you can say you'...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Tri States Public Radio, RadioFreePalmer, WSLR, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Jan 31, 2018
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8