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A Way with Words — language, linguistics, and callers from all over

Updated 13 days ago

Arts
Education
Society & Culture
Literature
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A Way with Words is a fun and funny radio show and podcast about language. Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett talk with callers from around the world about linguistics, slang, new words, jokes, riddles, word games, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, books, literature, folklore, and speaking and writing well. Email your language questions for the show to words@waywordradio.org. Or call with your questions toll-free *any* time in the U.S. and Canada at (877) 929-9673. From anywhere in the world: +1 (619) 800-4443. Hear all past shows for free: http://waywordradio.org/. Also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wayword.

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A Way with Words is a fun and funny radio show and podcast about language. Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett talk with callers from around the world about linguistics, slang, new words, jokes, riddles, word games, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, books, literature, folklore, and speaking and writing well. Email your language questions for the show to words@waywordradio.org. Or call with your questions toll-free *any* time in the U.S. and Canada at (877) 929-9673. From anywhere in the world: +1 (619) 800-4443. Hear all past shows for free: http://waywordradio.org/. Also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wayword.

iTunes Ratings

1128 Ratings
Average Ratings
807
224
38
34
25

Awesome podcast

By nanjso - Jul 02 2019
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I love the subject matter, and the hosts are so thoughtful and genial. A truly pleasant hour spent.

One of my favorites

By ceszar in in - Aug 18 2018
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Fun, friendly, and so informative. Don’t miss this podcast. You will become a fan and listener.

iTunes Ratings

1128 Ratings
Average Ratings
807
224
38
34
25

Awesome podcast

By nanjso - Jul 02 2019
Read more
I love the subject matter, and the hosts are so thoughtful and genial. A truly pleasant hour spent.

One of my favorites

By ceszar in in - Aug 18 2018
Read more
Fun, friendly, and so informative. Don’t miss this podcast. You will become a fan and listener.
Cover image of A Way with Words — language, linguistics, and callers from all over

A Way with Words — language, linguistics, and callers from all over

Updated 13 days ago

Read more

A Way with Words is a fun and funny radio show and podcast about language. Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett talk with callers from around the world about linguistics, slang, new words, jokes, riddles, word games, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, books, literature, folklore, and speaking and writing well. Email your language questions for the show to words@waywordradio.org. Or call with your questions toll-free *any* time in the U.S. and Canada at (877) 929-9673. From anywhere in the world: +1 (619) 800-4443. Hear all past shows for free: http://waywordradio.org/. Also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wayword.

Rank #1: Smile Belt (Rebroadcast) - 5 August 2019

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The only time you'll ever see the sun's outer atmosphere is during a full solar eclipse, when sun itself is completely covered. That hazy ring is called the corona, from the Latin word for "crown" -- just like the little crown on a bottle of Corona beer. Plus, the phrase "throw the baby out with the bathwater" contains a vivid image of accidentally tossing something -- and so does the phrase "to fly off the handle." But where did we get the expression "to hell in a handbasket"? The origin of this phrase is murky, although it may have to do with the fact that handbaskets are easily carried. Also: Biscuit Belt vs. Pine Belt, how to pronounce via, streely, pizza, tuckered out, FOOSH, and Sorry, Charlie!

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Aug 05 2019
51 mins
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Rank #2: Mrs. Astor's Horse - 29 July 2019

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"What has a head like a cat, feet like a cat, a tail like a cat, but isn't a cat?" Answer: a kitten! A 1948 children's joke book has lots of these to share with kids. Plus: an easy explanation for the difference between immigrate with an i, and emigrate with an e. And ....a story about storks. The ancient Greeks revered these birds for the way they cared for each other. They even had a legal requirement called the Stork Law, which mandated that Greek adults look after their elderly parents. Much later, the same idea inspired a rare English word that means "reciprocal love between children and parents." All that, plus a brain-busting quiz about scrambled words, Mrs. Astor's pet horse, dissimilation when pronouncing the word forward, tap 'er light, allopreening, raise the window down, and why we call a zipper a fly.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Jul 29 2019
51 mins
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Rank #3: Flop Sweat (Rebroadcast) - 12 August 2019

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Gerrymandering is the practice of redistricting to tip the political scales. Originally, though, this strategy was called "GARY-mandering" with a hard "g." But why? And: Mark Twain and Helen Keller had a devoted friendship. When he heard accusations that she'd plagiarized a story, Twain wrote Keller a fond letter assuring her that there's nothing new under the sun. Finally, a well-crafted message header makes email more efficient. A subject line that contains just the word "Question" is almost as useless as no subject line at all. Plus, flop sweat, vintage clothing, the solfege system, on line vs. in line, groaking, the Hawaiian fish dish called poke, and around the gool.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/  Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate  Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!  https://waywordradio.org/contact  words@waywordradio.org  Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada  Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673  Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Aug 12 2019
51 mins
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Rank #4: We have an attitude — 27 June 2018

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In the 11 years Martha and I have been doing A Way with Words together, we’ve developed an attitude.

It’s a positive attitude. It’s who we really are.

It’s the attitude we take toward language, linguistics, and the people who use them.

For example, we believe that if we all — you, me, everyone — try to perfect our understanding of language and how it’s truly used, we’ll all understand each other better, we’ll learn to respect other identities and other worldviews, and we will more successfully avoid conflict.

Language and respect — language and fairness — language and justice — they’re all tied together.

Treating people with humanity is a part of really knowing how language works.

We’ve now written about our attitude and beliefs, and more, and published it all as a kind of platform that explains our mission, vision, and values.

Go to https://waywordradio.org/mission to read the full statement, and to support the show and its mission with a donation that can make a difference.

https://waywordradio.org/donate

Thank you.

Grant Barrett

co-host of A Way with Words.

--

A Way with Words is funded by its listeners: https://waywordradio.org/donate

Podcast listeners, contact us with your questions and comments! Email words@waywordradio.org or call toll-free 24 hours a day (877) 929-9673 in the US and Canada. Everywhere else call +1 (619) 800-4443.

https://waywordradio.org/

Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Jun 27 2018
1 min
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Rank #5: Up Your Alley - 30 July 2018

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Martha and Grant have book recommendations, including a collection of short stories inspired by dictionaries, and a techno-thriller for teens. Or, how about novels with an upbeat message? Publishers call this genre "up lit." Plus, a clergyman ponders an arresting phrase in the book Peter Pan: What does the author mean when he says that children can be “gay and innocent and heartless”? Finally, watch out: if you spend money freely, you just might be called . . . . a dingthrift. Plus, waterfalling, pegan, up a gump stump, spendthrift, vice, cabochon, cultural cringe, welsh, and neat but not gaudy.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Jul 30 2018
51 mins
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Rank #6: Brollies and Bumbershoots - 16 April 2018

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If you think they refer to umbrellas as bumbershoots in the UK, think again. The word bumbershoot actually originated in the United States! In Britain, it's a brolly. Plus, a man who works a ski resort shares the vocabulary he and coworkers use to describe grooming the snow. And there's more than one way to pronounce the name of the bread that you pile with lox and cream cheese. Also: strong like bull, whistle britches, long suit and strong suit, homey and homely, wet behind the ears, and dead nuts.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Apr 16 2018
51 mins
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Rank #7: Colonial English - 28 January 2019

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The anatomy of effective prose, and the poetry of anatomy. Ever wonder what it'd be like to audit a class taught by a famous writer? A graduate student's essay offers a taste of a semester studying with author Annie Dillard. Also, what did George Washington sound like when he spoke? We can make a few guesses based on his social class and a look at dialect changes in colonial America. Plus, where is your body's xiphoid (ZIFF-oyd) process? Also: inept vs. ept, ruly vs. unruly, gruntled vs. disgruntled, cross and pile, lick the cat over, anyone vs. anybody, bloody, and rock, paper, scissors vs. paper, scissors, rock.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Jan 28 2019
51 mins
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Rank #8: Train of Thought - 4 February 2019

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Chances are you recognize the expressions Judgment Day and the root of all evil as phrases from the Bible. There are many others, though, some of which may surprise you: the powers that be and bottomless pit first appeared in scripture. Plus, there's a term for when the language of a minority is adopted by the majority. When, for example, expressions from drag culture and hip-hop go mainstream, they're said to have covert prestige. And the language of proxemics: how architects design spaces to bring people together or help them keep their distance. All that, and Segway vs. segue, part and parcel, Land of Nod, hue and cry, on the razzle, train of thought, and a special Swedish word for a special place of refuge.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Feb 04 2019
51 mins
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Rank #9: Butterflies in Your Stomach - 13 November 2017

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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're cleaning house, why not clean like there's literally no tomorrow? The term "death cleaning" refers to downsizing and decluttering specifically with the next generation in mind. The good news is that older folks find that "death cleaning" enhances their own lives. Finally, you know when anticipating something has you extremely nervous but also really excited? Is there a single word for that fluttery feeling? Plus, marrow, set of twins, skid lid, I reckon, vicenarian, miniscule vs. minuscule, and how to pronounce potable

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Nov 13 2017
51 mins
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Rank #10: Naked as a Jaybird - 1 January 2018

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What's the best way for someone busy to learn lots of new words quickly for a test like the GRE? Looking up their origins can help. Or record yourself reading the words and definitions and play them back while you're doing other chores. Plus, book recommendations for youngsters. Finally, military slang, and the one-word prank that sends Army recruits running--or at least the ones who are in on the joke! Also: fanboys, technophyte, galoot, landsickness, to have one's habits on, Zonk!, and a sciurine eulogy.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Jan 01 2018
51 mins
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Rank #11: Beat the Band (Rebroadcast) - 23 April 2018

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This week on "A Way with Words": This week on "A Way with Words": Can language change bad behavior in crowded places? The Irish Railway system has launched ad campaign to encourage passengers to be more generous at boarding time. For example, have you ever rummaged through your belongings or pretended to have an intense phone conversation in order to keep someone from grabbing the seat next to you? Then you're busted -- there's a word for that! Also, one of America's top experts on garage sales is looking for the right term for that kind of bargain-hunting. Is it garage-sailing? Yard-selling? Or something else? Plus, a Godfather-themed word game you can't refuse. And conversational openers, see-saw vs. teeter-totter, ledged out, scartling, trade-last, and beat the band.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Apr 24 2018
51 mins
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Rank #12: Far Out, Man - 30 April 2018

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An Ohio community is divided over the name of the local high school's mascot. For years, their teams have been called the Redskins. Is that name derogatory -- or does it honor the history of Native Americans in that area? And: You know when you're waiting in line to make a left turn at a traffic light, but the driver ahead of you is so busy with their cell phone that you end up having to sit through another red light? There ought to be a word for that, right? Maybe there is. Finally, the surprising connection between a passage of ancient poetry and familiar brand of athletic shoes. Plus rhyming phrases, far out, using a wheelchair vs. confined to a wheelchair, honey hole, pirate lingo, honte, and floorios.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Apr 30 2018
51 mins
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Rank #13: Mimeographs and Dittos - 25 June 2018

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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 the French for black and white? Plus, not every example of writing goes in one direction across the page. In antiquity, people sometimes wrote right to left, then left to right, then back again -- the same pattern you use when mowing a lawn. There's a word for that! And: a whiff of those fragrant duplicated worksheets that used to be passed out in elementary schools. Do you call them mimeographed pages or ditto sheets? Also, three-way chili, hangry, frogmarch, the cat may look at the queen, hen turd tea, and the  rhetorical backoff I'm just saying.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Jun 25 2018
52 mins
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Rank #14: Spill the Tea - 25 March 2019

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If someone urges you to spill the tea, they probably don't want you tipping over a hot beverage. Originally, the tea here was the letter T, as in truth. To spill the T means to pass along truthful information. Plus, some delicious Italian idioms involving food. The Italian phrase that literally translates Eat the soup or jump out the window! means Take it or leave it, and a phrase that translates as We don't fry with water around here! means We don't do things halfway! Also: why carbonated beverages go by various names, including soda, pop, and coke, depending on what part of the country you're from. Plus: fill your boots, bangorrhea, cotton to, and howdy; milkshakes, frappes, velvets, and cabinets; push-ups, press-ups and lagartijas; the Spanish origin of the word alligator, don't break my plate or saw off my bench, a takeoff quiz, FOMO after death, and much more.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.
Mar 25 2019
51 mins
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Rank #15: Cool Your Soup - 9 April 2018

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According to Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, it's important to master the basics of writing, but there comes a time when you have to strike out on your own and teach yourself. Also, some Spanish idioms involving food: What does it mean to flip the tortilla or to eat turkey at a dance? Plus, a conversation about the difference between compassion and sympathy. Also recursive acronyms, bear-caught, leaverites, jonesing, mon oeil, Jane Austen's pins, high-water pants, and save your breath to cool your soup.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Apr 09 2018
51 mins
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Rank #16: Brand Spanking New - 18 December 2017

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Words of the year and correcting a mispronounced name. Taking a look back at some notable words and phrases from 2017: Remember path of totality? How about "milkshake duck"? Also, a committee has to choose a new mascot for a school's sports teams. They want to call them the Knights, as in the heroes in shining armor. But is the word knight gender-neutral? Finally, Finally, a Spanish-speaking man tries in vain to correct peoples' mispronunciation of his first name. But should he bother? Plus: daylighting, a grammagram, an anagram, serendipity, fidget spinner, sports dictionaries, and brand spanking new.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Dec 18 2017
51 mins
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Rank #17: The Last Straw - 11 December 2017

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Books for word lovers, plus the stories behind some familiar terms. Want a gift for your favorite bibliophile? Martha and Grant have recommendations, from a collection of curious words to some fun with Farsi. Plus, some people yell "Geronimo!" when they jump out of an airplane, but why that particular word? Also, we call something that heats air a heater, so why do we call something that cools the air an air conditioner? The answer lies in the history of manufacturing. Also, quaaltagh, snuba, the last straw vs. the last draw, and I have to go see a man about a horse.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Dec 11 2017
51 mins
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Rank #18: Catch You on the Flip Side - 6 November 2017

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Some countries have strict laws about naming babies. New Zealand authorities, for example, denied a request to name some twins Fish and Chips.  Plus, Halley's Comet seen centuries before English astronomer Edmund Halley ever spotted it. That's an example of Stigler's Law, which says no scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer. Funny thing is, Stigler didn't come up with that idea. Finally, anagrams formed by rearranging the letters of another word. But what do you call anagrams that are synonyms, like "enraged" and "angered"? There's a word for that, too. Also, flip side, over yonder, kyarn, old-fashioned script, avoiding adverbs, and another country heard from.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Nov 06 2017
51 mins
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Rank #19: Piping Hot - 23 July 2018

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The game of baseball has always inspired colorful commentary. Sometimes that means using familiar words in unfamiliar ways. The word "stuff," for example, can refer to a pitcher's repertoire, or to the spin on a ball, or what happens to the ball after a batter hits it. Also: nostalgia for summer evenings and fond terms for fireflies, plus a word to describe that feeling when your favorite restaurant closes for good. "Noshtalgia," anyone? And: homonyms, forswunk, sweetbreads, get on the stick, back friend, farblonjet, and taco de ojo.

Listen to all episodes for free: https://waywordradio.org/   Support the show to keep episodes coming: https://waywordradio.org/donate   Your responses, questions, and comments are welcomed at any time!    https://waywordradio.org/contact   words@waywordradio.org   Listener line 1 (877) 929-9673 toll-free in the US and Canada   Text/SMS +1 (619) 567-9673   Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

Jul 23 2018
51 mins
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