Bio

Martha Barnette
Martha Barnette is co-host of the public-radio show A Way with Words, heard each week by listeners in more than 250 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 the Washington Post and an editorial writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal. She’s the author of three books on word origins: A Garden of Words, Ladyfingers & 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 can be found hiking mountain trails and performing improv comedy. She’s also co-founder of San Diego Republic, a clothing company that celebrates her adopted hometown.

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, and is currently studying for a Certificate in Fundraising Management from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. More about A Way with Words at waywordradio.org.

. . .

Is Martha speaking at your event? Feel free to use any of these hi-res photos. Martha’s current bio is always the one on this page.

Send Martha email