A Way With Words

Thursday at 11 am
Martha Barnette, Grant Barrett

Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette

  A Way with Words is an upbeat and lively hour-long public radio show about language examined through history, culture, and family. Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett talk with callers from around the world about slang, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, and speaking and writing well. They settle disputes, play word quizzes, and discuss language news and controversies. The show is heard by more than a quarter-million listeners each week over the air and by podcast.



  • Saturday, September 6, 2014 8:34am
    Have a question about objective pronouns? Whom ya gonna call? Wait–is that right? Or would it be “who ya gonna call”? “Whom” may be technically correct, but insisting on it can get you called an elitist. It’s enough to make you nervous as a polecat in a perfume parlor! And if you really want to [...]
  • Saturday, August 30, 2014 9:04am
    Today’s most popular dog names are Max and Bella. In the Middle Ages, though, dogs would answer to names like Amiable. Or Nosewise. Or even … Clench. ♦ Is the term redneck derogatory? Some folks proudly claim that name. They say it’s high time they were redneckcognized. ♦ Also, the origin of the phrase rule [...]
  • Saturday, August 23, 2014 9:48am
    It’s the Up Goer Five Challenge! Try to describe something complex using only the thousand most common words in English. It’s a useful mental exercise that’s harder than you might think. Also, if you want to make a room dark, you might turn off the lights. But you might also cut them off or shut [...]
  • Saturday, August 16, 2014 8:36am
    Remember a few years ago when Amazon introduced that mysterious device called a Kindle? People worried that electronic readers would replace traditional books. Turns out the death of the hardcover was greatly exaggerated. Also, the expression “bump and grind” doesn’t always mean what you think. Plus, the origin of jet black, the roots of fugacious, [...]
  • Saturday, August 9, 2014 9:03am
    When somebody sneezes, we say bless you or gesundheit. But suppose that person coughs. Are you supposed to say something — or are they? Plus, Mexican standoffs, gracious plenty, linguistic false friends, southpaw vs. northpaw, the slang of rabbit fanciers, a quiz about animal noises, and where to find a purple squirrel. And what’s so [...]