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Here you’ll find full episodes of public radio’s A Way with Words, heard on NPR stations around the United States. Looking for something you heard on the show? Try the search page. You can also listen to all episodes on a single playlist and download episodes from that page.

I’ll Be Your Boo

If you’re nibbling on slippery Jims or sipping sweet soup, chances are you’re in the Badger State. It’s the language of Wisconsin — explained at last. Also, the famous abolitionist whose name became an exclamation, and how to...

Eat the Grindstone

The books we love as children may influence our careers more than we realize. As a child, Martha was fascinated with stories of cracking codes, and Grant loved books with glossaries–not that far from the kind of work they do today. A caller...

Pickle Seeder

Would you rather live in a world with no adjectives … or no verbs — and why? Also, who in the world is that director Alan Smithee [SMITH-ee] who made decades’ of crummy films? Turns out that if a movie director has his work wrested away...

Green-Eyed Monster

We often hear that English is going to hell in a handbasket. Actually, though, linguistic handwringing about sinking standards and sloppy speech has been going on for centuries – at least as far back as the 1300’s! And: language also...

Blind Tiger

When you pick up a book of poems, how many do you read in one sitting? Some people devour several in a row, while others savor them much more slowly. Plus, it’s a problem faced by politicians and public speakers: When you have to stand in...

Idiom’s Delight

A recent study found that some names crop up more frequently than others in certain professions. The name William is especially common among attorneys–and graphic designers include a higher-than-average number of Jessicas. Plus, picturesque...