A Way with Words

Series produced by A Way with Words

Series image

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.


221 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Piece image
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 Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KVSC, WYAP and more


  • Added: Aug 13, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
Piece image
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 Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KWMR, KVSC and more


  • Added: Aug 19, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11
Piece image
Decisions by dictionary editors, wacky wordplay, and Walt Whitman's soaring verse.  How do lexicographers decide which historical figures deserve a...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, KVSC and more


  • Added: Aug 29, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Piece image
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 Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, KVSC and more


  • Added: Sep 02, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Piece image
One way to make your new business look trendy is to use two nouns separated by an ampersand, like Peach & Creature . . . or Rainstorm & Egg. A tong...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, KVSC, KTXK and more


  • Added: Sep 09, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Piece image
It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when people disagreed over the best word to use when answering the phone. Alexander Graham Bell sugg...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, KQRU FM LP, WYAP, KTXK and more


  • Added: Sep 16, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
Piece image
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 Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, KQRU FM LP, KVSC, WYAP and more


  • Added: Sep 23, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 12
Piece image
Unwrap the name of a candy bar, and you just might find a story inside. For instance, one chewy treat found in many a checkout lane is named after ...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, KQRU FM LP, KTXK, WYAP and more


  • Added: Sep 30, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Piece image
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 Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, WRFA-LP, WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Oct 07, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
Piece image
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 KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA, Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KVSC, KTXK and more


  • Added: Oct 21, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Piece image
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 Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KTXK, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, RadioFreePalmer and more


  • Added: Nov 04, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 6
Piece image
So you've long dreamed of writing fiction, but don't know where to begin? There are lots of ways to get started -- creative writing classes, local ...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, KVSC, WYAP, KTXK and more


  • Added: Oct 14, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Piece image
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 Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, KTXK, WCMU Michigan, KNVC Carson City Community Radio and more


  • Added: Nov 11, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
Piece image
Family words, and words about being in a family way. How many different ways ARE there to say you have a baby on the way? Sure, you can say you're ...

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


  • Added: Nov 24, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Piece image
A second-generation Filipino-American finds that when he speaks English, his personality is firm, direct, and matter-of-fact. But when he speaks wi...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, WRIR, KQRU FM LP, RadioFreePalmer, and KNVC Carson City Community Radio


  • Added: Dec 23, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 5
Piece image
The new Downton Abbey movie is a luscious treat for fans of the public-television period piece, but how accurate is the script when it comes to the...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KQRU FM LP, WCMU Michigan, WYAP, KTXK and more


  • Added: Oct 28, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Piece image
Books were rare treasures in the Middle Ages, painstakingly copied out by hand. So how to protect them from theft? Scribes sometimes added a curse ...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, KQRU FM LP, KVSC, KTXK and more


  • Added: Nov 18, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
Piece image
Is there something inherent in English that makes it the linguistic equivalent of the Borg, dominating and consuming other languages in its path? N...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, KNVC Carson City Community Radio, WCMU Michigan and more


  • Added: Dec 02, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Piece image
This week on A Way with Words: Insider knowledge and expert advice. The word "hipster" might seem recent, but it actually originated in the 1930s, ...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, KQRU FM LP, WYAP, KVSC and more


  • Added: Dec 09, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Piece image
Ribbon fall. Gallery forest. You won't find terms like these in most dictionaries, but they and hundreds like them are discussed by famous writers ...

Bought by Tri States Public Radio, KTSW 89.9, KTXK, WSLR, WYAP and more


  • Added: Dec 16, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 12