Martha Barnette

Martha Barnette is co-host of the public-radio show A Way with Words, heard each week by listeners in more than 230 cities across North America, and around the world by podcast. The program is about words and how we use them — word and phrase origins, slang, regional dialects, grammar, writing well, books and reading, and that weird thing Grandma used to say.

Martha is a longtime journalist who’s passionate about language and lifelong learning. She’s a graduate of Vassar College with an A.B. in English. She did graduate work in classical languages at the University of Kentucky and studied Spanish in Costa Rica at the ILISA Language Institute.

Before coming to radio, Martha worked as a reporter for theWashington Post and an editorial writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal. She’s the author of three books on word origins: A Garden of WordsLadyfingers & Nun’s Tummies: A Lighthearted Look at How Foods Got Their Names, and Dog Days & Dandelions.

Martha is often quoted in the news media about language topics.

A Kentucky native, she now lives in San Diego, where she performs with the improv comedy troupe “Outside the Lines.”

Martha joined A Way with Words in 2004. She is now president of Wayword, Inc., the small, educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit that produces and distributes the radio program. Find out more about A Way with Words.