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Obscure Spelling Words

Why do spelling bees in the United States use so many bizarre, obsolete, ginormous, and Brobdingnagian words? Webster’s New International Dictionary, 3rd Edition, published in 1961, is still the standard for spelling bees, and thus contains...

Nothing Else Like it On Public Radio

We need your contribution today. A Way with Words costs money to make. And it receives no money from National Public Radio or radio stations. In fact, the biggest part of the show’s budget is covered by listeners just like you. More than a...

Sexless Objects

Our two most recently aired episodes were Going All-City last week and The College Slang Party the week before that. They’re reruns more than six months old — which means you’ve forgotten half of what’s in them, right? Give...

Crankshaft and Basketbrawl

Grant offers examples from his latest words of the year list, including Crankshaft (the code name for the Osama Bin Laden), and basketbrawl, referring to the fight that broke out between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Chinese National Team. This is...

The “Its” Just Keep on Coming

Hello, fellow wordies! We hope this week’s archive edition isn’t “a few pickles short of a jar” or “a few peas short of a casserole.” We talk about these and other phrases for “not measuring up.” Also:...

Language Newsletter in Your Inbox

Greetings! In our latest show, we talk about an expression familiar to many African-Americans but little known outside that community, "I couldn't buy a louse in a wrestling jacket." Also, what does it mean if your dog is...

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