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, July 12, 2014 8:51am
    The history of the exclamation Lord love a duck!is unclear, but it may be a euphemism for a rhyming curse word or for the mild oath For the love of Christ! This is part of a complete episode.
  • Saturday, July 12, 2014 8:51am
    In an earlier episode, we talked about regretting what you name your child, and we got a call from a mother who named her son Bodie and found that the name didn’t travel so well. In France, people thought his name was “Body.” This is part of a complete episode.
  • Saturday, July 12, 2014 8:51am
    When someone says they should be bored for the hollow horn, it’s typically a lighthearted way of saying they should have their own head examined. The saying comes from an old supposed disease of cattle that made them dull and lethargic, and diagnosed by boring a hole in one of their horns. This is part [...]
  • Saturday, July 12, 2014 8:51am
    Some of the best things in the book Letters of Note are letters from kids to adults. One young fan’s plea to Charles Schultz that he remove a character from Peanuts was actually met with approval. This is part of a complete episode.
  • Saturday, July 12, 2014 8:51am
    Eudora Welty dropped the phrase man in the moon a couple times in her short story “Why I Live at the P.O.” The phrase doesn’t really reference the moon itself; it simply adds emphasis. Incidentally, seeing the image of a face or human figure in the moon is an example of pareidolia. This is part [...]