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I co-host A Way with Words, the radio show and podcast hailed by The New Yorker as  "Car Talk for Lexiphiles."  Our program is heard each week on National Public Radio affiliates across North America. It’s a talk show about words and how you use them: word and phrase origins, varieties of English, regional dialects, slang, books and reading, effective communication--and that weird thing your Grandma used to say.

I hold an undergraduate degree in English from Vassar College, did graduate work in classical languages at the University of Kentucky, and studied Spanish in Costa Rica at the ILISA Language Institute.

Before working in broadcasting, I was a reporter for the Washington Post and an editorial writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal. I'm the author of three books on word origins: A Garden of Words, Ladyfingers & Nun’s Tummies: A Lighthearted Look at How Foods Got Their Names, and Dog Days & Dandelions.


I've co-hosted A Way with Words since 2004. The show is produced by Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit supported by listeners and underwriters.

I live in San Diego, California, with my wife, stepson, and assorted animals and foster kittens. 

Did I mention I'm also obsessed with hiking? Yeah. 

Martha Barnette in studio with her feline assistant


(619) 796-5455


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