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.


217 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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Throwing cheese and shaky cheese are two very different things. In baseball, hard cheese refers to a powerful fastball, and probably comes from a s...

Bought by KUAT, KTXK, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX and more


  • Added: Jul 11, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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When a teenager went a week without talking as part of a school project, he noticed a surprising side effect: Instead of rehearsing a response to w...

Bought by KUAT, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: Jul 04, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Old. Elderly. Senior. Why are we so uncomfortable when we talk about reaching a certain point in life? An 82-year-old seeks a more positive term to...

Bought by KUAT, KTXK, WYAP, WNIN, WSLR and more


  • Added: Jun 27, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
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We tend to take the index of a book for granted, but centuries ago, these helpful lists were viewed with suspicion. Some even worried that indexes ...

Bought by KUAT, RADIOLEX, KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WSLR and more


  • Added: Jun 20, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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People who hunt treasure with metal detectors have a lingo all their own. Canslaw means the shreds of aluminum cans left after a lawnmower ran over...

Bought by KUAT, KNCT FM, WSLR, KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX and more


  • Added: Jun 13, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Imagine telling someone how to get to your home, but without using the name of your street, or any other street within 10 miles. Could you do it? W...

Bought by KUAT, RADIOLEX, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, KNCT FM and more


  • Added: Jun 06, 2022
  • Length: 54:30
  • Purchases: 19
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This week on "A Way with Words": If you take up texting and social media late in life, there's a lot to learn! A 20-something wants advice getting ...

Bought by KUAT, KTXK, KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX, WYAP and more


  • Added: May 30, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 19
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Ever wonder what medieval England looked and sounded like? In Old English, the word hord meant "treasure" and your wordhord was the treasure of wor...

Bought by KUAT, KTXK, RADIOLEX, KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: May 23, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 19
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Don't move my cheese! It's a phrase middle managers use to talk about adapting to change in the workplace. It comes from a popular 1990s business b...

Bought by KUAT, KTXK, KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX, WYAP and more


  • Added: May 16, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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If you speak a second or third language, you may remember the first time you dreamed in that new tongue. But does this milestone mean you're actual...

Bought by KUAT, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], RADIOLEX, WYAP, WSLR and more


  • Added: May 09, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Do you refer to your dog or cat as "somebody"? As in: When you love somebody that much, you don't mind if they slobber. In other words, is your pet...

Bought by KUAT, KNCT FM, KTSW 89.9, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], WYAP and more


  • Added: May 02, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 19
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The word filibuster has a long and colorful history, going back to the days when pirates roamed the high seas. Today it refers to hijacking a piece...

Bought by KUAT, KTAL-LP [Las Cruces Community Radio], KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WYAP and more


  • Added: Apr 25, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Sure, there's winter, spring, summer, and fall. But the seasons in between have even more poetic names. In Alaska, greenup describes a sudden, dram...

Bought by KUAT, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, RADIOLEX, WNIN and more


  • Added: Apr 18, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Understanding the varieties of conversational styles can mean the difference between feeling you're understood and being insulted. "High involvemen...

Bought by KUAT, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WSLR, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio) and more


  • Added: Apr 11, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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Centuries ago, monks who took a vow of silence still had to communicate about routine matters, from gardening to equipment repair. So they develope...

Bought by KUAT, KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, RADIOLEX and more


  • Added: Apr 04, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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An anadrome is a word that forms a whole new word when you spell it backwards. For example, the word "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts." So...

Bought by KUAT, KTSW 89.9, WYAP, WSLR, RADIOLEX and more


  • Added: Mar 28, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Eels, orts, and Wordle! Sweden awarded its most prestigious literary award to a book about . . . eels. The Book of Eels reveals the mysterious lif...

Bought by KUAT, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX, WYAP and more


  • Added: Mar 21, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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We take our voices for granted, but it's truly miraculous that we communicate complex thoughts simply by moving our mouths while exhaling. A fascin...

Bought by KUAT, KTXK, KTSW 89.9, RADIOLEX, WSLR and more


  • Added: Mar 14, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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Some people work hard to lose their accent in order to fit in when they move somewhere else. But others may be homesick for the sounds they grew up...

Bought by KUAT, KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, KVSC and more


  • Added: Mar 07, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
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For rock climbers, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, the word "send" has a whole new meaning. You might cheer on a fellow snowboarder with "Se...

Bought by KUAT, KTSW 89.9, KHOL (Jackson Hole Community Radio), WSLR, Tri States Public Radio and more


  • Added: Feb 28, 2022
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17