A Way With Words
A Way with Words is an energetic podcast that I really enjoy. The lively conversation with hosts, Martha Barnette and Grant Barett, and the call-in questions from guests, make for a unique program that is quite informative. The hosts talk with callers about slang, old sayings, new words, word origins, family expressions, and regional dialects. These odd and sometimes familiar terminologies are examined through family dynamics, culture and history.
Here are a few expressions from callers inquiring about their origins:
Catch you on the flip side: this is a term used by CB (Citizens Band) radio truckers meaning ‘see you later’ or ‘I will see you on my return trip’. Although more obsolete today because of the internet and cell phones, some truckers still find it useful particularly in rural areas where it may be difficult to pick up a cell signal.
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth: originated when horses were more commonplace in society. Horses were considered properties of some prestige. As they grow older however, their gums begin to recede. The meaning suggests that we should not inspect a gift too closely.
Making milk sandwiches: a term used when people would go to the store and all the bread and milk would be gone. They would ask, “What are people doing, making milk sandwiches?”
As clean as a whistle: does not necessarily mean a physical whistle. It’s the sound itself, clean and clear; ‘as clear as the whistle of a bird’. The term originated in the 19th century.
A Way with Words will research words or phrases you’ve heard your grandmother say, something you thought was exclusive to your family, or the roots of an expression significant to a geographical area. It’s educational and fun!