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.


164 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Piece image
What happens in a classroom of refugee and immigrant youngsters learning English? Their fresh approach to language can result in remarkable poetry ...

Bought by WYAP, WPCA-LP, WNIN, KTSW 89.9, RadioStPete and more


  • Added: Aug 10, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Piece image
We have books that should be on every language lover's wish list, plus a couple of recommendations for history buffs. Plus: how did the word boondo...

Bought by WCMU, WRFA-LP, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP, KTSW 89.9 and more


  • Added: Aug 04, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Piece image
Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing...

Bought by KTXK, RadioStPete, WSLR, WKMS, WRFA-LP and more


  • Added: Jul 27, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
Piece image
An ornithologist says there's a growing movement to change the name of a pink-footed bird currently called the flesh-footed shearwater. The movemen...

Bought by KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, WYAP, Royalton Community Radio and more


  • Added: Jul 20, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
Piece image
If you catch your blue jeans on a nail, you may find yourself with a winklehawk. This term was adapted into English from Dutch, and means "an L-sha...

Bought by KTXK, KTSW 89.9, WSLR, RadioStPete, Royalton Community Radio and more


  • Added: Jul 13, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
Piece image
An artist asks strangers to write haiku about the pandemic, and gets back poetic, poignant glimpses of life under lockdown. Plus, the new book Quee...

Bought by KTXK, WSLR, KTSW 89.9, RadioStPete, Royalton Community Radio and more


  • Added: Jul 06, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Piece image
Perfect sentences and slang that tickles your mind. A new book of writing advice says that a good sentence "imposes a logic on the world's weirdnes...

Bought by KTXK, KTSW 89.9, RadioStPete, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: Jun 29, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Piece image
In 1971, when a new public library opened in Troy, Michigan, famous authors and artists were invited to write letters to the city's youngest reader...

Bought by WSLR, KTSW 89.9, RadioStPete, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: Jun 23, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Piece image
In 1803, a shy British pharmacist wrote a pamphlet that made him a reluctant celebrity. The reason? He proposed a revolutionary new system for clas...

Bought by KTXK, KTSW 89.9, RadioStPete, WSLR, WRFA-LP and more


  • Added: Jun 15, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Piece image
Silence comes in lots of different forms. In fact, says writer Paul Goodman, there are several kinds: There's the noisy silence of "resentment and ...

Bought by KTSW 89.9, WSLR, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP, KQRU FM LP and more


  • Added: Jun 08, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Piece image
There was a time when William Shakespeare was just another little 7-year-old in school. Classes in his day were demanding -- and all in Latin. A ne...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Jun 02, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Piece image
A clever pun can make the difference between a so-so phrase and a memorable one. The phrase "the last straw" refers to an old fable about too many ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, Royalton Community Radio, KTXK, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: May 26, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 12
Piece image
A stereotype is a preconceived notion about a person or group. Originally, though, the word stereotype referring to a printing device used to produ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, KTXK, KTSW 89.9, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: May 18, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
Piece image
Sometimes it's a challenge to give a book a chance: How many pages should you read before deciding it's not worth your time? There's a new formula ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, KTSW 89.9, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: May 12, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Piece image
Martha and Grant have book recommendations, including a collection of short stories inspired by dictionaries, and a techno-thriller for teens. Or, ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, KTXK, KTSW 89.9, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: May 05, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Piece image
The game of baseball has always inspired colorful commentary. Sometimes that means using familiar words in unfamiliar ways. The word "stuff," for e...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP, KTXK, WNIN and more


  • Added: Apr 28, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Piece image
How colors got their names, and a strange way to write. The terms "blue" and "orange" arrived in English via French, so why didn't we also adapt th...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, KTXK, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Apr 21, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 12
Piece image
The adjective canine refers to dogs, and feline refers to cats. But how does English address other groups of animals? Plus, cabin fever has been ar...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, KOJB 90.1 FM The eagle, KVSC, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP and more


  • Added: Apr 13, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
Piece image
There's a proverb that goes "Beloved children have many names." That's at least as true when it comes to the names we give our pets. "Fluffy" becom...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, KTXK, Royalton Community Radio, WYAP, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Apr 06, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Piece image
Cat hair may be something you brush off, but "cat hair" is also a slang term that means "money." In the same way, cat beer isn't alcoholic -- some ...

Bought by KQRU FM LP, WYAP, KTXK, KRPS, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Mar 30, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13