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Faulknerian Adjectives

William Faulkner used adjectives like shadowdabbled, Augusttremulous, and others that can only be described as, well, Faulknerian. Grant and Martha trade theories about why the great writer chose them. The University of Virginia has an online audio...

Irresistible First Lines

“They shot the white girl first.” That’s how Toni Morrison’s novel, Paradise, begins, and it’s a great example of an irresistible first line. Martha shares others sent in by listeners. She also reads from a Michael...

Unusual Words from Eleemosynary

Eleemosynary is the title of a play by Lee Blessing. The play celebrates this and other unusual words, including sortilege, charivari, ungulate, favonian, and logodaedaly. Martha saw a production at San Diego’s Moxie Theater, and takes the...

Put That on Your Skedooly

Hi! In the latest episode of “A Way with Words,” it’s the day jobs of famous writers. We also discuss Eskimo kisses, the Puerto Rican treat called a “limber,” how “fail” became a noun, “I’m...